Migration Mainstreamed Across AIDS2018 Conference in the Netherlands

Migration Health

Geneva The 22nd International AIDS Conference kicked off in Amsterdam yesterday (23/07) and will run until 27 July. The flagship conference has been held annually since 1985, and has become the largest global health conference worldwide. It provides a platform for Governments, policy makers, academics and public health professionals from around the world to convene, to bring bringing together the latest evidence in advocacy, science, and human rights.

The theme of this year’s conference is Breaking Barriers, Building Bridges, and efforts will focus on ways to more effectively reach key populations, including in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, North-African and Middle Eastern regions, where data shows epidemics are growing.

There is a clear relationship between population movement and the spread of HIV; however, it is not the one that mainstream media often choose to portray. Migration is not a risk factor for HIV transmission, but migration may place people in situations of higher risk, and even more fundamental are the risks that may cause people to move in the first place. 

“We are thrilled to see migration as a cross-cutting issue at the AIDS conference this year, represented in abstracts, oral presentations, and various side events including a satellite session co-hosted by UNAIDS and IOM on HIV and migration within the fast track agenda [in which migrants are identified as a priority population for targeted response],’’ said Jacqueline Weekers, IOM’s Director of Migration Health.

Between 2010 and 2017, through its Migration Health Division, and working closely with government, UN and other partners, IOM implemented 79 HIV-specific projects in 57 countries with a total expenditure of nearly USD 100 million. At the country level this encompasses delivery of comprehensive HIV prevention packages; surveillance, research and epidemiological modelling of HIV vulnerabilities among migrant and mobile populations; and direct provision of HIV and sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services to key populations including testing, treatment, care and support.

IOM also supports Member States in addressing the vulnerabilities to HIV and the specific health-care needs experienced by migrant and mobile populations, including review of policies related to restrictions on entry based on HIV status, with a view to elimination of such restrictions.

‘’We are proud of the work IOM does globally in the field of HIV prevention and response, and the AIDS conference provides a platform to showcase these efforts, and join forces with brilliant minds globally, to fortify evidence-based approaches to halting and reversing the HIV epidemic by 2030,’’ explained Dr. Poonam Dhavan, Senior IOM Migration Health Policy Advisor.

IOM, alongside UNAIDS (with whom a renewed MOU was signed in December 2017), Member States and partners, shares a common commitment to responding effectively to the new challenges posed by both increasing migration and by the spread of HIV, while respecting and maintaining human rights and dignity – together the global community can reach target 3.3 of the Sustainable Development Goals, and end the AIDS epidemic by 2030.

Read more about IOM’s HIV work here.

For more information please contact IOM’s Migration Health Division: mhddpt@iom.int

  • School girls in South Sudan learn about HIV and hygiene. © IOM 2017/Amanda Nero