Migration to increase vulnerability to HIV/AIDS

Nepal AIDS pandemicKATHMANDU, Oct. 28: Foreign employment has been a significant contributor to the present national economy of Nepal but it could also lead to increasing HIV infection if necessary interventions were not carried out at the earliest, warned experts here yesterday.

Speaking at a seminar on HIV and Migration organised jointly by the National Institute of Development Studies (NIDS) and Fredskorpet (FK), Sweden here today, they said the degree of vulnerability to HIV/AIDS was higher among the migrant workers in the destination as well as among their families back home.

The increasing number of youths in productive age heading abroad for employment has already led to a decline in the population growth rate, making labour migration a priority issue for policy makers and planners at the moment.

A recent study carried out among Nepali migrant men in Mumbai had found sexual risk behaviour prevalent in a significant percentage of the migrant workers.

The study carried out by the Action Research Centre, Mumbai among 120 Nepali migrants in Mumbai also found that the risk behaviour trends were similar among married and unmarried men mostly of whom work as security guard or cook and that the, network of friends and alcohol influenced sexual risk behaviour among others.

Speaking on the occasion, Minister of State for Labour and Transport Management Ramesh Lekhak said the Government was aware of the efforts to be made to minimize and check the negative contributions of foreign employment like vulnerability to HIV and expressed the commitment to support any programs and approaches developed by the experts in this regard.

Joint Secretary at the Ministry of Health and Population, Ram Hari Dhungel pointed out the need for a safe labour migration policy and to convert the existing knowledge of HIV/AIDS into practice.

Saru Joshi of UNIFEM Nepal, Parbati Lama of Prerana, Sacha J. of FK and Ganesh Gurung of NIDS also shed light on various aspects of the nexus between HIV and Migration.