Effects of Migration on Risky Sexual Behavior and HIV Acquisition in South Africa: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis, 2000-2017

AIDS Behav. 2019 Jun;23(6):1396-1430. doi: 10.1007/s10461-018-2367-z.


While human mobility has been implicated in fueling the HIV epidemic in South Africa, the link between migration and HIV has not been systematically reviewed and quantified. We conducted a systematic review of the role of migration in HIV risk acquisition and sexual behaviour based on 29 studies published between 2000 and 2017. Furthermore, we performed a meta-analysis of the association between migration and HIV risk acquisition in four of the studies that used HIV incidence as an outcome measure. The systematic review results show that HIV acquisition and risky sexual behavior were more prevalent among both male and female migrants compared to their non-migrant counterparts. The meta-analysis results demonstrate that migration was significantly associated with increased HIV acquisition risk (aOR = 1.69, 95% CI 1.33-2.14; I2 = 35.0%). There is an urgent need for effective combination HIV prevention strategies (comprising biomedical, behavioral and structural interventions) that target migrant populations.

Keywords: Meta-analysis; Migration; Multiple sexual partnerships; Risk of HIV acquisition; Risky sexual behaviour.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Emigration and Immigration / statistics & numerical data*
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology*
  • HIV Infections / prevention & control
  • HIV Infections / transmission*
  • Health Risk Behaviors
  • Humans
  • Prevalence
  • Risk-Taking
  • South Africa / epidemiology
  • Transients and Migrants / psychology*
  • Transients and Migrants / statistics & numerical data*
  • Unsafe Sex / psychology
  • Unsafe Sex / statistics & numerical data*