HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is a major health threat to the world’s population and has become a global health issue. Infection with HIV occurs by the transfer of blood,semen, vaginal fluid, pre-ejaculatory fluid, or breast milk,and is normally contracted through unprotected vaginal or anal sex (without a condom), intravenous drug use(using shared needles to inject drugs into a vein), and blood transfusions. If a mother is infected with HIV,there is a chance she can pass the infection onto her baby through pregnancy, or when breast-feeding. If left undiagnosed or untreated, HIV can eventually lead to AIDS, a dangerous disease that severely weakens the immune system and leads to death.The farm working community is at a higher risk of contracting HIV and/or AIDS in comparison to other Latino groups and the U.S.population as a whole, due to a variety of circumstances.
- Lack of health care access;
- Lack of social support;
- Constant traveling;
- Geographic isolation;
- Separation from family;
- Lack of health education, and
- Cultural attitudes and beliefs about safe sex practices
This lack of care can lead tomore people becoming infected with the disease, as many infectedmigrant workers do not know that they are infected and travel home toMexico during the off-season andcan transmit the disease to otherswithout knowing. For the sake oftheir health and the health of theirloved ones, migrant workers whoengage in high-risk behaviors (listedbelow) should be tested immediatelyin order to prevent further infectionof others. Common testing placesinclude your local health department,a private doctor’s office, a healthclinic, or your local hospital. Thereare also other non-profit testing sitesthat offer low-cost (or donationbased)testing.
Certain high-risk behaviors put migrant workers at risk for contracting HIV/AIDS, including:
- Sex with prostitutes,
- Inconsistent condom use
- Alcohol and drug abuse
There are a number of mobile health clinics in California that offer a variety of health services to residents in the state, including HIV testing. For a list of mobile health clinics that are registered through the Mobile Health Network, visit
the Mobile Health Map website athttp://www.mobilehealthmap.org/.Another option is to make an appointment with a doctor at a Migrant Health Center. You can call the National Center for Farmworker Health to locate the nearest center at 1(800) 377-9968. The office is staffed by bilingual Information Specialists Monday through Friday,6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Pacific Time,and accessible 24 hours a day through an answering service and/or voice messaging. They can also be found online at www.ncfh.org.Also, the California Department of Health Office of Aids provides information on testing service
locations throughout the state. In addition, the California Department of Health, offers low- and no cost options for HIV treatments through their AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP). ADAP allows undocumented workers in California to get treatment for HIV/AIDS even if they aren’t in the country legally. The California ADAP was established in 1987 to help ensure
that HIV-positive uninsured and under-insured individuals have access to medication. To find a location near you visit www.cdcnpin.org/ca/or call 1(800) 367-2437 (which can provide you information in Spanish and English).