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Review of HIV Transmission, Health Seeking Behavior and Services for Myanmar Migrant Workers in Mae Sot and Myawaddy Border Area, Tak Province, Thailand

By Arkar Linn Naing

As of 2010, the worlds migrant population was estimated to be two hundred and fourteen million people. This translates to three percent of the worlds population living outside of their country of origin (UNFPA, 2013).. The magnitude of this international migration makes the development of various sectors in a host country important for both developing and developed countries. The major factor driving migration is to seek economic and social opportunities. Thailand, one of the main host countries of migrants in Southeast Asia, had more than three million migrants arrive from neighboring countries such as Myanmar, Lao and Cambodia in 2011 (WHO, 2012a). Meanwhile, Thailand also has the highest HIV prevalence among countries in the Southeast Asia region. Therefore, the issue this paper seeks to address is how migrant workers from Myanmar are involved in tackling the HIV problems in Thailand. In 2005, HIV prevalence among Myanmar migrant workers is estimated to be 7.3% among men and 8.4% among women in Mae Sot, a town in Western Thailand that shares a border with Myanmar. This estimate came from the blood results of 35,057 migrant workers tested in Mae Sot Hospital (IOM, 2007). A 2.2% prevalence of HIV among pregnant women who visited Mae Tao Clinic for Ante Natal Care services was found in the same year (Mae Tao Clinic, 2008). The barriers Myanmar migrant workers face in reaching health care services are complex and involve issues of legal status, changing government policies and lack of a comprehensive migration policy in Myanmar. Long-term financing for programs is needed, as is a stronger coordination network among service providers.