- UN report says most migrants originate from India, SA, Zambia, Zimbabwe and UK
- Many are low-wage workers but policies and practices prevent their access to public healthcare
Within Botswana’s 170,000 non-citizens in residence who constitute 7 percent of the country’s total population, an estimated 30,000 are living with HIV, a UN report has revealed.
Approximately 27 percent of these are on antiretroviral therapy (ART).
According to the report, most international migrants in Botswana originate from India, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe and the United Kingdom, with 80 percent falling within the 15-49 age group, which is the most sexually active and economically productive.
The report further says policies and practices that restrict access to essential healthcare services for migrants and refugees can reduce their access to information on HIV prevention and lead to them avoiding testing services and treatment for HIV for fear of arrest and deportation.
This means that fewer know their HIV status and can cause increased HIV prevalence through the practice of Multiple Concurrent Partnerships (MCP) and reduced access to prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission (PMTCT), the report says.
It warns that migrants are being left behind through limited access to free, publicly-financed antiretroviral therapy, despite the 2016 Treat All policy and the government’s National “HIV and AIDS Strategic Framework 2018-2023 (NSF III)” which recognises non-citizens as a priority population requiring programmatic attention.
The report states: “Within the non citizen population, prisoners and refugees have access to ART, but other migrants have to purchase antiretrovirals from private facilities at a high cost. Non-citizen populations who cannot afford ART treatment on their own include low-wage workers, such as maids, cleaners, hair braiders and other day labourers, and unmarried partners of citizens, including the unmarried mothers of children fathered by citizens.”