HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE
KATHMANDU: HIV/AIDS awareness is very high among migrant workers from Achham and Kanchanpur districts, if a Care Nepal study is anything to go by.
The study ‘Vulnerability to HIV and AIDS: A Social Research on Cross Border Mobile Population from Nepal to India’ showed that 88 per cent of migrant workers in India, 99 per cent of returnee migrants and 85 per cent of spouse of migrant population are aware of the disease.
The sample included 1,184 respondents, with 584 in India (388 in Delhi and 196 in Mumbai) and 550 in Nepal (252 in Achham, 298 in Kanchanpur). The sample in Nepal consisted of three different categories, including the returnees or circular migrants (17.3 per cent), spouses of mobile persons (66.5 per cent) and any adult family member of the migrants (16.2 per cent). The research showed that 61 respondents in India had commercial or non-regular sex partners. In Nepal, only four of the circular migrants reported having non-regular partners. Among the migrants in India, 10 per cent were aware of the availability of treatment for HIV infection.
The report also showed that awareness on anti-retroviral therapy was eight per cent in India, whereas it was 33 per cent among returnees and 14 per cent among spouses in Nepal.
Although the awareness level is high among the migrant population, some misconceptions still existed regarding the mode of transmission, Sanju Bhattarai Wagle, regional research manager at Care Nepal, said.
Wagle added there is no specific and comprehensive study on the number of Nepali population in India. But the Nepal Living Standard Survey conducted by the Central Bureau of Statistics in 2003/04 estimated that one million Nepalis worked in India.
While only 30 per cent of the mobile population in India had heard about STIs, the proportion was much higher (51 per cent) among circular and returnee migrants in Nepal and much lower (only about 19 per cent) among spouses, the report said. The report also showed that 26 per cent respondents in Nepal and 40 per cent in India said they were educated about HIV and AIDS and STIs. In Nepal, 83 per cent of the respondents reported that migrants were the main sources of income for their families.