Regional Assessment on HIV-prevention needs of Migrant and Mobile Populations in Southern Africa


HIV Prevention and Treatment Not Accessible to Migrant Workers in
Southern Africa – A new IOM study has found that migrant
workers in Southern Africa have relatively low and inadequate
access to HIV prevention and treatment services, although they have
high a vulnerability to infection.

The findings are based on a regional assessment of the HIV
vulnerabilities of migrants and mobile workers in the southern
Africa region commissioned by the US Agency for International
Development (USAID) and funded by the Southern Africa Prevention
Initiative of the US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief

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target="_blank" title="">Regional Assessment on HIV-prevention
needs of Migrant and Mobile Populations in Southern Africa

Conducted in eight countries (Angola, Lesotho, Malawi,
Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland and Zambia) over a
five-month period from July to November 2009, the assessment
focused primarily on labour migrants employed in the agriculture,
mining, transport, construction, informal cross border trade and
the maritime  sectors.  Irregular migrants were a
secondary focus.

The study found that numerous factors contribute to the
increased HIV vulnerability of migrant workers, mobile populations
(and the communities that they interact with), including:

  • Boredom and loneliness resulting from the long periods of time
    spent away from home;
  • Poor social environments in which alcohol and sex are the only
    forms of entertainment;
  • Multiple and concurrent sexual partnerships including
    commercial and transactional sex;
  • Low HIV knowledge and inconsistent condom use;
  • Limited access to HIV prevention services;
  • Low coverage of social and behaviour change communication

Additionally, irregular and undocumented migrants face special
health vulnerabilities as they often avoid accessing public health
services, citing reasons such as the high cost of healthcare
services; fear of being deported; language barriers and possible
xenophobic attitudes of healthcare service providers.

The report makes a number of recommendations to help reduce the
HIV vulnerability of migrant workers and mobile populations. These
include: the need to look at migrants within a public health
context and developing programmes for migrants and the communities
with which they interact or "spaces of vulnerability"; the need for
further research to examine sexual behavioural patterns within the
migration process; and the need for governments to introduce
comprehensive HIV/AIDS policies that cover the specific
vulnerabilities faced by migrants, in particular access to
healthcare at their work place and in their home countries.

USAID's Southern Africa Mission Director, Mr. Jeff Borns, said,
"USAID supported this valuable research to find out how susceptible
the migrant workers are to HIV and AIDS, and to gain valuable
guidance for those seeking to address the needs of such a
vulnerable and underserved group."

The complete report titled Regional Assessment on HIV-prevention
needs of Migrant and Mobile Populations in Southern Africa can be
downloaded from:


Sector-specific reports can also be downloaded from


For further information, please contact:

Nosipho Theyise

IOM Pretoria

Tel: +2712 342 2789

E-mail:  "">