Jakarta Post Examines How Indonesian Migrant Workers Are Vulnerable to HIV/AIDS
The Jakarta Post on Tuesday examined how Indonesian migrant workers are vulnerable to HIV/AIDS. No official statistics are available on the disease among migrant workers, but according to data released Monday at a seminar by the Association of Medical Clinics for Migrant Workers, 0.09% of potential Indonesian migrants to the Middle East are HIV-positive. There were 131 cases of HIV/AIDS among people in Indonesia seeking work in the Middle East from January to October 2005, according to the Post. In 2004, 203 of 233,626 potential migrants to the Middle East were HIV-positive, the Post reports. Thaufiek Zulbahary of Women's Solidarity for Human Rights said lack of information about HIV/AIDS, low rates of condom use, few health facility visits and limited access to health services all contribute to the spread of HIV/AIDS among migrant workers. Although migrants undergo an orientation seminar and training before they leave the country, only 15 minutes is spent covering HIV/AIDS, Zulbahary said. In addition, some of the training materials used at the seminars contain false information about the disease and its transmission, he added. Zulbahary also said the migration process makes migrants vulnerable to HIV/AIDS because of sexual abuse by brokers. Women, who account for 80% of Indonesian migrant workers, are particularly vulnerable to assault because they must strip down to their underwear during required premigration medical exams, and they often do not request safeguards for HIV transmission prevention, such as clean needles, the Post reports. Furthermore, although HIV testing is mandatory, migrant workers receive no pre- or post-test counseling and might not know they are being tested for HIV, according to the Post. To begin to address the situation, WSHR called on the government to guarantee access to accurate health information and quality and affordable health care for migrant workers. According to Zulbahary, migrant workers must take part in developing, implementing and monitoring laws, policies and programs that aim to protect their health (Diani, Jakarta Post, 7/25).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.