Left at sea: HIV vulnerability among migrant fishermen in Goa, India.
ABSTRACT The Indian coastline is about 7517 km long, and on this coast line lie India's four high HIV prevalent states: Maharashtra , Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu. In the Indian context, when it comes to the mobile population, it is mostly truckers and labour migrants who have been given more attention from the National AIDS Control Organization. There are hardly any studies available in India on HIV and AIDS among fishing communities and seafarers. The vulnerability of fishing communities to HIV and AIDS is rooted in the nature of their occupation, which is characterised by high mobility, long absences from home, and cash incomes which in many cases are spent on casual sex and alcohol. Drawing from a mixed methods approach, which included in-depth interviews, focus group discussions, and a locally informed survey, this paper describes the living situation of fishermen in Goa, their risk perception towards HIV, risk behaviour, and condom usage. The push factors for migration to Goa were the lack of work opportunities and meagre wages, making it difficult for men to feed and clothe their households. The major pull factor for fishermen to migrate to Goa was the nature of fishing and the facilities that reduce the risk of financial loss for them. In the survey, risk perception towards HIV was queried in three different ways, and in one of the ways 15 percent agreed that there is a possibility that they might have contracted HIV. As concerns risk behaviour, 13.4 percent of the fishermen said that they had had sexual relations with a non-spousal partner. Only 14 percent of the fishermen had ever used a condom. The politics of aid and targeted interventions in Goa is barring access to information and care for the fishermen in Goa.