Migration and AIDS

Lancet. 1995 Sep 23;346(8978):826-8. doi: 10.1016/s0140-6736(95)91631-8.


PIP: A successful short-term solution to transmission of AIDS in Western Africa by migrants involves provision of accessible and acceptable basic health and social services to migrants at their destination. The aim is to establish a sense of security and community, which is a health requirement. When migrants are excluded from community life or victimized as carriers of HIV infections, they will be driven by basic survival needs and dysfunctional social organization, which results in the rapid spread of HIV. Closing borders and mass deportation may not be an option. The long-term solution is population policy, environmental protection, and economic development. The focus on mapping the spread of AIDS must shift to a consideration of the migrant social conditions that make them vulnerable to AIDS. The issue of migration and AIDS will be addressed at the First European Conference on Tropical Medicine in October 1995 in Hamburg, Germany. In Uganda, HIV seroprevalence rates ranged from 5.5% among the stable population to 12.4% among internal migrants moving between villages to 16.3% among migrants from other areas. A World Bank project is operating in Western Africa, which traces seasonal male migration from the Cameroon to Liberia, Senegal to Nigeria, and from the Sahel to the coast during dry seasons. National border rules may influence the routes but not the extent of migration. A major destination place is Cote d' Ivoire, which has 25% of total population comprised of migrants from other countries and one of the highest HIV prevalence rates in Western Africa. On plantations prostitutes are brought in. Each prostitute serves about 25 workers. The pattern of sexual mixing contributes to the high HIV rates. Female migration is smaller and usually concentrated in prostitution at place of destination. Illiteracy and poverty drive women migrants into the trade. Their frequent health problems are malaria, pelvic pain, menstrual irregularity, vaginal discharge, and genital sores. Drugs are bought on the streets or from friends and may be of questionable efficacy. Health services may be sought upon return to the home country.

MeSH terms

  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / transmission*
  • Adult
  • Africa, Western
  • Emigration and Immigration*
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / transmission*
  • Health Services Needs and Demand
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Occupations
  • Seasons
  • Sex Work
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / therapy
  • Uganda