Background: Rapid economic development in urban China has led to a mass migration of surplus rural residents into urban areas for better employment opportunities. This study aims to identify prevalence levels and risks of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and hepatitis among the rural-to-urban migrant population in China.
Methods: Chinese and English literature databases were searched for studies reporting prevalence of HIV, STIs and viral hepatitis among rural-to-urban migrants in China between 1990 and 2013. The estimates were summarised through a systematic review and meta-analysis. The risks of infection were compared between migrants and the general Chinese population.
Results: We identified a total of 411 eligible studies. The prevalence of HIV, syphilis, gonorrhea, genital warts and HCV among migrants were 0.23% (0.20-0.27%), 0.69% (0.57-0.84%), 2.18% (1.30-3.64%), 1.54% (0.70-3.36%) and 0.45% (0.31-3.65%), representing 4.0 (3.1-5.2), 1.9 (1.1-3.0), 13.6 (5.8-32.1), 38.5 (15.7-94.5) and 3.8 (1.9-7.3) higher odds of infection than among the general population. Construction workers, long-distance truck drivers and migrant women through marriage were migrant subgroups that were highly susceptible to STIs and hepatitis. HIV prevalence among migrant pregnant women (0.10%, 0.02-0.49%) was significantly higher than that of pregnant women in the general Chinese population (OR = 7.7, 3.4-17.4). However, no significant differences were observed in STIs and hepatitis between overall female sex workers (FSWs), men who have sex with men (MSM) and drug users (DUs), and the corresponding subgroups with a migratory background.
Conclusions: Rural-to-urban migrants have a higher risk of STIs and hepatitis than the general Chinese population, but a migratory background does not increase the infection risks of STIs and hepatitis in FSWs, MSM and DUs.