Increased Efforts Needed To Curb Spread of HIV Among Migrant Workers in Asia, Group Says
Increased efforts are needed to curb the spread of HIV among migrant workers in Asia, many of whom lack access to health care services, CARAM Asia -- a coalition of migrant and health groups from 15 countries in the region -- said on Monday in an open letter to Asian governments, the AP/International Herald Tribune reports. "For a comprehensive approach to contain HIV/AIDS, the health of not only local populations but also migrant communities needs to be addressed," the letter said. According to CARAM, there are about 53 million migrant workers in Asia who are at an increased risk of HIV because they cannot access HIV prevention programs, health counseling and medical services. Many migrant workers found to be HIV-positive also are deported without any assistance or treatment services, the group said. CARAM did not provide any estimates of how many migrant workers in the region are living with HIV.
According to CARAM, many migrant workers are from impoverished areas in countries such as Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Pakistan and the Philippines and often find employment in more wealthy Asian countries. According to United Nations estimates, about 8.6 million people are living with HIV in Asia. Some officials have said that investment in HIV/AIDS control efforts remains low at 10% of the needed $5 billion annually. The number of people living with HIV in the region could increase to 20 million in the next five years if Asian governments do not increase their commitment to and funding for efforts to curb the spread of the virus, officials have said (AP/International Herald Tribune, 5/22).
The letter is available online.