Migrants a Valuable Resource in Combating Rise in HIV/AIDS in Europe

Posted: 
11/29/10

Migrants need to be included in health responses that seek to
tackle the growing incidence of HIV/AIDS in Europe, IOM and
partners will tell participants at a conference in Brussels on
World Aids Day, 1st December.

This is especially important due to the health inequities
suffered by migrants and other at-risk groups across Europe.

The conference at the European Parliament, "With Migrants for
Migrants: Improving HIV Prevention for All", organized by IOM, will
bring together non-governmental and advocacy organizations as well
as policy makers at the EU and at national level.

The event, hosted by MEP Marisa Matias (GUE NGL), will include
keynote speeches by the European Commission, MEP Marie Christine
Vergiat, former MEP Vittorio Agnoletto and high level
representatives from Portugal, Italy and Belgium.

HIV/AIDS remains a key health issue in Europe, with rates of new
infections increasing in recent years. Lower levels of awareness
and the feeling that the disease is now less severe are putting
European youth and certain social groups more at-risk. Migrants are
especially vulnerable due to gaps in targeted culturally sensitive
health strategies, or because of a lack of access to health
services.

Among the recommendations at the event for improving the
response to HIV in Europe is the need for National and European
institutions alike to use inclusive approaches in prevention,
health promotion and care. This includes adopting public-funded
mediator programmes and investing in migrant-sensitive
healthcare.

"Leadership is an important issue. Migrants must be enabled to
take the lead when stigma and discrimination bring silence and
disease to their communities," says Salman Ramazan, Director of the
Ethno Medical Centre (EMZ) in Germany, which leads the AIDS &
Mobility (A&M) 2007-2010 project in which IOM is a partner.

The project, funded by the European Commission and the
Portuguese government focuses on peer education, i.e., "migrant to
migrant" education, for the dissemination of culturally sensitive
information. The method, supported by the A&M Guidebook on
HIV/AIDS for Migrants in Europe, has reached hundreds of young
people from 20 different language groups in six European countries
while 100 migrants have become certified trans-cultural mediators
for their own communities. The approach is expected to be
replicated in other countries and on other policy areas.

"A&M provides an effective method for health education
across cultural and language barriers in this highly sensitive
area. This is a model for self-empowerment and for building and
strengthening skills and responses among migrant communities," says
Roumyana Benedict, IOM's Senior Regional Migration Health Manager
for Europe in Brussels.

The event will also feature an MTV Video on the EMZ 2010 Young
Social Entrepreneur (YSE), Dynka Amorim, a migrant from Sao Tome
and Principe and based in Portugal whose project "Bue fixe"
successfully brings together traditional health education and new
media. The 2011 YSE Call for Candidates is currently open.

For further information, please contact:

Roumyana Benedict

IOM Brussels

Tel: +32 475 627 709

E-mail: "mailto:rpetrovabenedict@iom.int">rpetrovabenedict@iom.int 

or

Maria-Jose Peiro

Email:  "mailto:mpeiro@iom.int">mpeiro@iom.int