Are HIV prevention programs effective in addressing rising HIV/AIDS rates among Central Asian labor migrants?



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Within the last ten years HIV rates in Central Asia have more than quadrupled amongst the general population. Labor migrants from the region who are working in Russia are considered at high risk of HIV infection due to risky sexual practices. Similar behavior has been documented among labor migrants in sub Saharan Africa. By reviewing medical data and literature written by international health professionals in both regions, I analyze the chain of sexual contact of labor migrants within female partners that contribute to the spread of HIV from Russia to the general population within Central Asia. I use Tajikistan as a case study. The findings of this study recommend that existing behavior modification strategies need to recognize existing gender structures when addressing at risk populations. They must also emphasize collaboration with community religious leaders and civil society organizations to promote effective and appropriate HIV/AIDS education efforts in order to curb the growing prevalence rates among male labor migrants in Central Asia.