Temporary Migration and HIV Risk Behaviors: A Case Study in Southwestern China

Xiushi Yang, Old Dominion University

The link between migration and HIV/AIDS is well documented. But theoretical work to understand the social and behavioral mechanisms underlying migrants' HIV risk behaviors is limited. Most studies view migration primarily as a virus carrier and population mixer. This paper presents a framework conceptualizing the link between temporary migration and migrants' HIV risk behaviors. It argues that temporary migration breeds social and behavioral changes that render migrants vulnerable to risky sexual and drug use behaviors. The combination of post-migration social isolation, economic marginalization, and lax social control experienced by migrants is the key to understanding their heightened HIV risk-taking behaviors. The proposed framework is then tested empirically with data from a large population-based survey conducted in 2002 in southwestern China. The results are expected to shed new light on migration and HIV dynamics and provide invaluable inputs for future prevention intervention efforts to reduce HIV/STD risk among temporary migrant workers.

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Presented in Session 147: Migration, Urbanization, and Health