20 Oct 2022

Higher risk for international migrants of contracting HIV

A ground-breaking piece of research, which aims to quantify the risk of HIV in international migrants could play a major role in Australia’s efforts to eliminate the virus, according to researchers from the Melbourne Sexual Health Centre, part of Alfred Health.

Sexual health physician Associate Professor Jason Ong said this study provides evidence of international migrants were at a higher risk of contracting HIV.

“It’s long been thought that international migrants, may face health inequities that expose them to a higher risk for HIV than native-born populations,” A/Prof Ong said.

“If we’re to eliminate the virus by 2025, it’s imperative we understand the risk to this population and develop ways to minimise it.”

Although it was not possible to assess if HIV infection occurred in the country of origin or destination, international migrants had almost double the risk of HIV than native-born populations.

“Not surprisingly, we found that amongst migrant types, asylum seekers and people migrating from countries with high burden of HIV had the highest risk of HIV,” A/Prof Ong said.

A/Prof Ong said the results of the study show a clear need to ensure our HIV response does not leave anyone behind.

“One of the main takeaways from this study is that making effective prevention strategies, such as PrEP, available to everyone, regardless of residential status, will go a long way to achieving our dream of eliminating this virus.”

Santoso D, Asfia SKBM, Mello MB, Baggaley RC, Johnson CC, Chow EPF, Fairley CK, Ong JJ. HIV prevalence ratio of international migrants compared to their native-born counterparts: A systematic review and meta-analysis. EClinicalMedicine. 2022 Sep 17;53:101661. doi: 10.1016/j.eclinm.2022.101661. PMID: 36147629; PMCID: PMC9486043.











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