Background: Cross border Intervention

The history of southern Africa has been and continues to be shaped by intensive patterns of economic integration and regional migration.

Numerous studies conducted in east and southern Africa document the association between migration and HIV and AIDS. Truck drivers transport goods over long distances often across international borders.


Migrants are recognised as more vulnerable to infection than people who do not move because the situations they encounter expose them to risks. Some southern African border posts for example have developed into thriving informal settlements where truckers can spend the night. These attract street vendors and sex workers exposing, not only travellers, but also the local populations to heightened risk.

Border towns have high rates of HIV prevalence, being places where transients such as truck drivers encounter a more stable population removed from nationally centralised HIV and AIDS intervention programmes. There are four key ways in which migration is tied to the rapid spread and high prevalence:

  • Migrants multi-local social networks create opportunities for wider sexual networking
  • Mobility and transience can encourage or make people vulnerable to high risk sexual behaviour
  • Mobility makes people more difficult to reach through interventions whether for preventative education, condom provision, HIV testing and counselling or post infection treatment and care
  • Migrant communities are often socially, economically and politically marginalised, both officially, in terms of legal rights and protection, and unofficially through discrimination and xenophobia.

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