HIV infections are rising at a significant rate among migrant Mexican workers after decades of being a minor problem along the border, according to two new studies by the University of California’s AIDS research program.
As many as 1% of migrant workers—about 20,000 people—are infected with HIV, according to the results of a study of 600 migrant workers in Fresno and San Diego counties. That’s more than three times the rate of HIV in the general U.S and Mexican populations, according to UC researchers who sponsored the field work.
Researchers say that male migrant workers, separated from spouses and adrift from the cultural mores of their native Mexico, typically contract the virus in the U.S.—usually through sexual contact with other men.
Another source, Lemp said, is the widespread use of shared needles to inject antibiotics and vitamins. In Mexico, where injecting antibiotics is common, clean needles are available over the counter, but migrants here must share needles because syringes cannot be easily purchased.