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2005-11-22-HIV/AIDS Epidemic Among Migrants Who Travel Between U.S., Mexico
The Merced Sun on Saturday examined the increasing number of HIV/AIDS cases among Mexicans in the U.S. and Mexico, "a trend that researchers and health officials attribute to migrants' high-risk behavior and constant movement." Juan Ruiz, director of the California Office of AIDS, said that the agency did not find any HIV-positive migrant workers when it conducted its first study in 1994.
However, up to 1% of the population might be HIV-positive, according to a study of 600 migrant workers conducted in Fresno and San Diego counties by the Universitywide AIDS Research Program of the University of California.
Researchers said that migrant workers, who travel to the U.S. in search of a better life for themselves and their families, often come to the country alone, making them more likely to engage in high-risk behaviors.
Migrant workers who do not have access to their normal support systems are "more likely to engage in high-risk behavior in order to deal with loneliness and fear," Ruiz said. Although the number of new HIV cases reported among migrant workers is lower than in other at-risk populations, such as blacks, public health workers need to put into practice HIV/AIDS education and prevention programs, Salvador Sandoval of the Golden Valley Health Center said.
Migrant workers in California are eligible for government assistance for treatment and care regardless of their immigration status, according to the Sun-Star. "The thing is, really, now if someone is diagnosed with HIV, we end up paying for it," Sandoval said, adding, "So it is in our benefit to prevent the disease in everybody" (Fox, Merced Sun-Star, 11/19).