Population Mobility and Spread of HIV Across the Indo-Nepal Border

National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling, University of Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia.
Journal of Health Population and Nutrition (Impact Factor: 1.04). 10/2007; 25(3):267-77.
Source: PubMed


The article reviews information on the epidemiology of HIV/AIDS and behavioural networking to examine the role of population mobility in spreading HIV across the Indo-Nepal border. Documents were collected through a systematic search of electronic databases and web-based information resources, and the review focuses on studies about types of the virus, prevalence of HIV, and sexual and injecting networking. HIV-1 (subtype C) and HIV-2 were identified in Nepal. The prevalence of HIV was higher among male labour migrants and female sex workers (FSWs) who returned from India, especially from Mumbai, than in similar non-migrant groups. In the early 2000s, about 6-10% of Mumbai returnee men, compared to up to 4% of India returnee men and up to 3% of non-migrant men in the far-west Nepal, were identified with HIV. Likewise, when the prevalence of HIV among sex workers in Kathmandu was found to be 17% in 1999-2000, up to 44% of India returnee and 73% of Mumbai returnee FSWs were identified with the virus. These data are, however, based on small samples with questionable representativeness of the target populations and need to be interpreted cautiously. They also generate a biased impression that HIV was coming into Nepal from India. Recently, the possibility of a two-way flow of HIV across the Indo-Nepal border through injecting and sexual networking have been indicated by serological and behavioural data from a south-eastern cluster of Nepal and a north-eastern district of India. Although similar behavioural networks exist along other segments of the border, serological data are unavailable to assess whether and how extensively this phenomenon has caused the spread of HIV. Collaborative research and interventions covering both sides of the border are desirable to fully understand and address the prospect of HIV epidemics associated with cross-border population mixing.

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    • "Karkee and Shrestha34 and Nepal35 reported a high prevalence of HIV/AIDS in labor migrants in Nepal, far above the prevalence in the nonmigrant population. In the early 2000s, the prevalence of HIV/AIDS was more pronounced in female sex workers returning from India, accounting for 44%–73% of the returnees, significantly higher than the 4%–10% prevalence in male labor migrants.35 "
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    ABSTRACT: HIV/AIDS has been one of the world's most important health challenges in recent history. The global solidarity in responding to HIV/AIDS through the provision of antiretroviral therapy (ART) and encouraging early screening has been proved successful in saving lives of infected populations in past decades. However, there remain several challenges, one of which is how HIV/AIDS policies keep pace with the growing speed and diversity of migration flows. This study therefore aimed to examine the nature and the extent of HIV/AIDS health services, barriers to care, and epidemic burdens among cross-country migrants in low-and middle-income countries. A scoping review was undertaken by gathering evidence from electronic databases and gray literature from the websites of relevant international initiatives. The articles were reviewed according to the defined themes: epidemic burdens of HIV/AIDS, barriers to health services and HIV/AIDS risks, and the operational management of the current health systems for HIV/AIDS. Of the 437 articles selected for an initial screening, 35 were read in full and mapped with the defined research questions. A high HIV/AIDS infection rate was a major concern among cross-country migrants in many regions, in particular sub-Saharan Africa. Despite a large number of studies reported in Africa, fewer studies were found in Asia and Latin America. Barriers of access to HIV/AIDS services comprised inadequate management of guidelines and referral systems, discriminatory attitudes, language differences, unstable legal status, and financial hardship. Though health systems management varied across countries, international partners consistently played a critical role in providing support for HIV/AIDS services to uninsured migrants and refugees. It was evident that HIV/AIDS health care problems for migrants were a major concern in many developing nations. However, there was little evidence suggesting if the current health systems effectively addressed those problems or if such management would sustainably function if support from global partners was withdrawn. More in-depth studies were recommended to further explore those knowledge gaps.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2014 · HIV/AIDS - Research and Palliative Care
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    • "Additional PWID strains were identified from a 34 year old male with frequent trips to India, which clustered with a strain from a male PWID from Myanmar, and from a 31 year old male with travel history to Nepal. Risky injecting and sexual behaviour among PWID in this region have been reported previously [17] and a two-way flow of HIV across the Indo-Nepal border through injecting and sexual networking has been established through analysis of serological and behavioural data from a south-eastern cluster of Nepal and a north-eastern district of India [18]. A high genetic similarity between strains sampled in different countries is therefore expected. "
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    ABSTRACT: Bangladesh has an overall low HIV prevalence of <0.1% in the general population and <1% among key affected populations, but it is one of few Asian countries that has yet to reverse the epidemic. In order to do this, it is important to understand the transmission dynamics in this country. The aim of this study was to investigate the phylogenetic relationships of HIV-1 subtype C strains from Bangladesh and related strains from other countries, and thereby clarify when and from where subtype C was introduced in the country and how it subsequently spread within Bangladesh. The phylogenetic analysis included 118 Bangladeshi gag sequences and 128 sequences from other countries and was performed using the BEAST package. Our analysis revealed that the vast majority of Bangladeshi sequences (97/118, 82%) fall into a large regional cluster of samples from Bangladesh, India, China and Myanmar, which dates back to the early 1960's. Following its establishment in the region, this strain has entered Bangladesh multiple times from around 1975 and onwards, but extensive in-country transmission could only be detected among drug users and not through sexual transmission. In addition, there have been multiple (at least ten) introductions of subtype C to Bangladesh from outside this region, but no extensive spread could be detected for any of these. Since many HIV-infections remain undetected while asymptomatic, the true extent of the transmission of each strain remains unknown, especially among hard to reach groups such as clients of sex workers and returning migrants with families.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2013 · PLoS ONE
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    • "In India, as is the case globally, FSWs are highly mobile for sex work [5] due to police harassment [24]; to escape stigma and discrimination [4,25]; and to attract a different or wider client base [11]. Research suggests that FSWs who were mobile for sex work had higher rates of HIV as compared to non-mobile FSWs [5,10], possible reasons being their experience of violence [11,14,17], sexual risk behaviors such as unprotected sex [4,5,25], lack of access to condoms [25], inability to negotiate safe sexual practices [26], and limited access to health care services [11,27] and HIV prevention programs [11,26] in new locations. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background Violence and mobility have been identified as critical factors contributing to the spread of HIV worldwide. This study aimed to assess the independent and combined associations of mobility and violence with sexual risk behaviors and HIV, STI prevalence among female sex workers (FSWs) in India. Methods Data were drawn from a cross-sectional, bio-behavioral survey conducted among 2042 FSWs across five districts of southern India in 2005–06. Regression models were used to estimate odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for sexual risk behaviors and HIV infection based on experience of violence and mobility after adjusting for socio-demographic and sex work related characteristics. Results One-fifth of FSWs (19%) reported experiencing violence; 68% reported travelling outside their current place of residence at least once in the past year and practicing sex work during their visit. Mobile FSWs were more likely to report violence compared to their counterparts (23% vs. 10%, p < 0.001). Approximately 1 in 5 tested positive for HIV. In adjusted models, FSWs reporting both mobility and violence as compared to their counterparts were more likely to be infected with HIV (Adjusted odds ratio (adjusted OR): 2.07, 95% CI: 1.42–3.03) and to report unprotected sex with occasional (adjusted OR: 2.86, 95% CI: 1.76–4.65) and regular clients (adjusted OR: 2.07, 95% CI: 1.40–3.06). Conclusions The findings indicate that mobility and violence were independently associated with HIV infection. Notably, the combined effect of mobility and violence posed greater HIV risk than their independent effect. These results point to the need for the provision of an enabling environment and safe spaces for FSWs who are mobile, to augment existing efforts to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2012 · BMC Public Health
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