STD risk for 25 per cent of migrant workers

Published Dec 2, 2014, 11:45 am IST
Updated Mar 30, 2019, 9:53 am IST
At least 2,500 engage in high-risk behaviour

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: As per rough estimates by the field workers of Kerala State AIDS Control Society (KSACS), around 25 per cent of all migrant workers engage in high-risk sexual behaviour with prostitutes making them more susceptible to sexually transmitted diseases (STD).

Out of every 10,000 migrant labourers screened,  at least 2,500 engage in high-risk behaviour.


Officials of NGOs say that though they can easily identify potential patients during the session, it has become difficult to track them later as labourers frequently change locations, affecting the chances of zeroing in on HIV-positive men.

“A migrant labourer from Orissa was found to be HIV- positive by our volunteers. While undergoing Anti- Retro Viral therapy, he left with promises that he will bring along his children and wife for treatment. We had linked him with a local volunteer in Orissa but he never returned.

Based on his track record, it is possible that he will infect more people. Knowing we may run into trouble we did not officially register him,” said a volunteer.


Homosexuality behaviour and failure to use condoms even amidst awareness campaign defeat  the society’s efforts. It  has set up various bases in areas like Valayar, Fort Kochi and brought down the prevalence rate of  STD  by half.

“Our volunteers select leaders among migrant workers who have information about the orientation and sexual encounters of each of their ring members.

Those asking too many questions during group classes at labour camps are taken for individual counselling and tested. If they have HIV they are given continuous treatment,” said the manager of an NGO.  


As per Dr Velayudhan, joint director (care and support), Kerala State AIDS Control Society, the ‘missed outs’ or absconders among HIV patients have always been there.

“Many of the patients sometimes take a position that they don’t want to continue medicine and they are untraceable.  They know it is suicidal but the therapy is the only factor that can suppress the virus and help victims live for decades,” Dr Velayudhan said.

Location: Kerala