High rates of HIV among labourers

A SURVEY has found HIV infection rates as high as almost 40percent among farmworkers in Mpumalanga and Limpopo.

Almost 3000 farmworkers from 23 commercial farms in the Malelane, Musina and Tzaneen regions took part in the International Organisation for Migration survey conducted over three months.

At least 39,5percent of farmworkers who donated blood anonymously were found to be HIV positive. This was more than twice the national prevalence rate of 18percent.

Principal investigator with Maromi Health Research Mark Colvin says it is the highest HIV prevalence ever reported among the working population in Southern Africa.

HIV was higher in women than men, with more than 46percent of women testing HIV positive, followed by a third of men.

Almost half of the workers at Malelane tested HIV positive, which was the highest prevalence. This was much higher than the district prevalence of 40percent.

Malelane shares borders with Swaziland and Mozambique and a population that is 60percent South African, 24percent Mozambican and 14percent Swazi.

Musina results showed an HIV prevalence of 28percent, almost two-fold that of the surrounding Vhembe district's 14,7percent.

The lowest prevalence was recorded in Tzaneen where almost a third (26,3percent) were HIV positive. This was still slightly higher than the 25,2percent prevalence in the district.

Dr Erick Ventura, IOM's regional coordinator for migration health, said: "While new HIV infections have dropped nationally, it is very worrying that the epidemic remains shockingly high in the commercial agricultural sector."

Would you like to comment on this article or view other readers' comments? Register (it’s quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.