AIDS and HIV in Migrant Workers

In 2010, there were approximately two million hired agricultural workers in the United States. Unfortunately, these workers have traditionally been left out of HIV and AIDS prevention due to their high mobility and lack of access to health services. According to a report commissioned by Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2005, An Epidemic Without Borders: HIV/AIDS in California and Mexico, migrant workers are also considered vulnerable to AIDS and HIV, in part because of unsafe sexual practices. Also, workers are often uninsured or do not seek medical help for early symptoms.

This can lead to further spread of the disease. Many infected migrant workers do not know that they are infected and travel home to Mexico during the off-season and transmit the disease to others unknowingly. For the sake of their health and the health of their loved ones, migrant workers who engage in high-risk behaviors (described above) should be tested immediately in order to prevent further infection of others. Common testing places include your local health department, a private doctor’s office or health clinic, or your local hospital. There are also other non-profit testing sites that offer low-cost (or donation-based) testing in your area.

The California Department of Health, Office of Aids provides information on testing service locations throughout the state. To find a location near you visit www.cdcnpin.org/ca/ or call 1-800- 367-2437 (which can provide you information in Spanish). You can also find information on HIV prevention services, as well as HIV care and treatment services at the Office of Aids as well.

There are also low- and no-cost options for treatments. The AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) allows undocumented workers in California to get treatment for HIV/AIDS even if they aren’t in the country legally. The California AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) was established in 1987 to help ensure that HIV-positive uninsured and under-insured individuals have access to medication.