Voice of America News (12.01.12)
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) says that wealthy countries should provide HIV prevention and treatment to migrants living within the countries. Migrants within high-income nations have disproportionately high rates of HIV/AIDS because they “face marginalization, exclusion and various barriers to accessing health promotion and health care,” said IOM spokesperson Chris Lom.
UNAIDS reported the number of HIV infections increased in wealthy countries in Europe and North America over the last 10 years. Migrants comprise a large portion of new HIV infections, and migrants from HIV-endemic countries—Africa and the Caribbean—have the highest rates of HIV infection, said Lom. People born outside of the United States accounted for 16 percent of all new HIV infections from 2007 to 2012, although they represent only 13 percent of the total U.S. population. HIV rates for migrants in Canada are 8.5 times higher than for people native to Canada. In Europe, “over one-third of all HIV infections” occur among migrants from HIV-endemic countries. In contrast, the rate of HIV infections declined in low- and middle-income countries over the last 10 years.
Forty-five countries restrict the entry of HIV-infected people, but this policy has not been effective in securing low rates of HIV among migrants, according to IOM. “Irregular migration” is partly to blame, but migrants also have high rates because they do not know their HIV status or because they are diagnosed late, according to Lom. Many migrants become infected after they arrive in the country of destination.
UNAIDS attributes the overall decline in HIV incidence and mortality worldwide largely to antiretroviral medications. In comparison to 10 years ago, there are 700,000 fewer new HIV infections and 600,000 fewer deaths from HIV worldwide. UNAIDS recommends that high-income countries protect the public health by reaching migrant populations with HIV prevention and treatment.