IOM and UNAIDS has issued a study on nexus between migration and HIV among different groups of migrants living in Belarus to identify the gaps and build up a strategy for further work with the Government to ensure migrants’ health. The research is first of its kind done in Belarus – to the date there was no data available on specific vulnerabilities to HIV among migrants.
IOM with the financial support of UNAIDS conducted the study on nexus between migration and HIV within the one-year thematic project to collect quantitative and qualitative data and analyze behavioral patterns of different groups of migrants, which reflect the dynamics between the risks of exposure to HIV and mobility of people.
One of the key purposes of the study was to identify the level of awareness of HIV and its routes of transmission among the target groups: 1) international drivers, 2) foreign students, and 3) working migrants, which turned to be quite low among the groups in focus. Low awareness in its turn leads to higher behavioral risks.
“When I was in school, we were taken to the cinema to watch a film about AIDS, that is it.”, recalled one of the international drivers who participated in the survey.
”These diseases are dangerous, you can die, and I heard that you could die from HIV infection”, answered one of the international students who participated in the survey.
The results clearly point to the necessity in large-scale innovative preventive activities aimed at informing the target groups about the risks and safety measures. Moreover, the study has revealed that migrants face certain difficulties in accessing HIV testing and ARV treatment services, that needs to be addressed through the development of effective policies to address the issue. In order to fully assess the scale of issue and efficiently address it programmatically, the study will be continued to cover other groups of migrants and get the full picture of the situation and measures needed to be taken.
The study will set in motion further cooperation with the Government, UNAIDS and competent NGOs to address migration and health issues in the Republic of Belarus.