Southeast Asia Migrants Vulnerable To HIV

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Millions of migrant workers in Southeast Asia are vulnerable to HIV because they do not have access to health services and legal or social protection, according to a report released Thursday by the United Nations and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, AFP/Yahoo! Singapore News reports. According to the report, more than 1.5 million people are living with HIV in Southeast Asia, most of whom are of working age. In addition, the report found that HIV/AIDS risk behaviors are higher among migrants compared with the general population.


For the first time, the report included data on current migration patterns and HIV rates in ASEAN's 10 member countries. It found that although some countries -- such as Indonesia, Laos, the Philippines and Vietnam -- have created pre-departure HIV/AIDS training for outgoing, documented migrant workers, many of the training sessions are ineffective. "While migrants and their sexual partners are included as a vulnerable group in the national strategic plans of ASEAN countries, comprehensive programs to address their needs have yet to be developed, funded and implemented," UNAIDS Regional Director Prasada Rao said.

According to the report, HIV prevalence has been recorded at up to 9% among migrant fisherman in Thailand, while 35% and 30% of recorded HIV cases in the Philippines and Laos, respectively, occur among returning migrant workers. "Migrant workers are a vital force to national economies in Southeast Asia, yet when it comes to protecting their rights and ensuring HIV prevention and treatment, they are often among the forgotten," United Nations Development Programme Regional Director Ajay Chhibber said (AFP/Yahoo! Singapore News, 11/13).

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