Mobile populations seem to get more and more attention at international AIDS conferences and their specific vulnerability to HIV/AIDS gets increasing recognition.
Paragraph 50 of the UNGASS Declaration of Commitment, which was adopted by the General Assembly in June 2001 states that: “by 2005 national, regional and international strategies that facilitate access to HIV/AIDS prevention programmes for migrants and mobile workers must be developed and started to be implemented, including the provision of information on health and social services”.
The recently launched UNAIDS report on the global HIV/AIDS epidemic carries a special focus on AIDS and mobile populations in its chapter four, “Prevention: applying the lessons learned”, which highlights why and when in the migration process mobile populations are most vulnerable and how programmes could reduce the vulnerability of mobile populations to HIV infection.
For instance, some labour migrants like mineworkers are most vulnerable at their destination, living in men-only hostels, while for others the greatest risk occurs in transit, as with women who have to trade sex in order to survive or complete their journeys.
In many countries, regions reporting higher seasonal and long-term mobility also have higher rates of infection, and higher rates of infection can also be found along transport routes and in border regions indicating that migration and mobility increases vulnerability to HIV/AIDS, both for those who are mobile and for their partners back home.
AIDS 2002 Conference News produced by Health & Development Networks/Key Correspondent Team