Deutsche Presse-Agentur (02.10.10) - Friday, February 12,
The global financial crisis is increasing the risk HIV/AIDS
among Southeast Asia's poor, warns a recent report by the UN
Development Program. "Vulnerabilities to HIV faced by migrant
workers and mobile populations will likely be exacerbated with
increasing deterioration of their economic opportunities and
health conditions," said UNDP.
The economic downturn is affecting the region in two ways.
First, publicly funded services for diseases like HIV are
threatened by shrinking coffers, said UNDP, citing evidence
from Asia's economic collapse in 1997-99. A second danger: the
rural poor, often women, move to cities and choose
prostitution to survive.
"There is evidence that HIV risks increased during the [1997-
99] crisis, with increases in the number of sex workers in
less formal settings," the report said.
Migration also is associated with increased health risks as
laborers seek employment abroad. Although migration is not a
risk for HIV itself, many laborers find themselves cut off
from friends and family and are more likely to engage in high-
risk behaviors, according to experts.
"The situation faced by migrants, mainly because of single-
entry policy from the destination country, raises the rate of
casual sex relationships for migrants, because many of them
are not allowed to bring their spouses," said Suksma Ratri,
program officer with the Kuala Lumpur-based non-governmental
organization Coordination of Action Research on AIDS and
The appropriate response is not just to encourage safe sex
among migrant laborers, but also to find ways to allow them to
travel with their families and establish stable social
networks in their host countries, said Christopher Ng, Asia-
Pacific regional secretary of the Singapore-based
international trade union UNI.