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HIV/AIDS health care challenges for cross- country migrants in low- and middle-income countries: a scoping review

Authors Suphanchaimat R, Sommanustweechai A, Khitdee C, Thaichinda C, Kantamaturapoj K, Leelahavarong P, Jumriangrit P, Topothai T, Wisaijohn T, Putthasri W

Received 20 October 2013

Accepted for publication 11 December 2013

Published 26 February 2014 Volume 2014:6 Pages 19—38


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Rapeepong Suphanchaimat,1,2 Angkana Sommanustweechai,1 Chiraporn Khitdee,1 Chompoonut Thaichinda,1 Kanang Kantamaturapoj,3 Pattara Leelahavarong,4 Pensom Jumriangrit,1 Thitikorn Topothai,1 Thunthita Wisaijohn,1 Weerasak Putthasri1

1International Health Policy Program (IHPP), Ministry of Public Health, Nonthaburi, Thailand; 2Banphai Hospital, Khon Kaen, Thailand; 3Department of Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, Mahidol University, Nakhon Pathom, Thailand; 4Health Intervention and Technology Assessment Program, Ministry of Public Health, Nonthaburi, Thailand

Introduction: HIV/AIDS has been one of the world's most important health challenges in recent history. The global solidarity in responding to HIV/AIDS through the provision of antiretroviral therapy (ART) and encouraging early screening has been proved successful in saving lives of infected populations in past decades. However, there remain several challenges, one of which is how HIV/AIDS policies keep pace with the growing speed and diversity of migration flows. This study therefore aimed to examine the nature and the extent of HIV/AIDS health services, barriers to care, and epidemic burdens among cross-country migrants in low- and middle-income countries.
Methods: A scoping review was undertaken by gathering evidence from electronic databases and gray literature from the websites of relevant international initiatives. The articles were reviewed according to the defined themes: epidemic burdens of HIV/AIDS, barriers to health services and HIV/AIDS risks, and the operational management of the current health systems for HIV/AIDS.
Results: Of the 437 articles selected for an initial screening, 35 were read in full and mapped with the defined research questions. A high HIV/AIDS infection rate was a major concern among cross-country migrants in many regions, in particular sub-Saharan Africa. Despite a large number of studies reported in Africa, fewer studies were found in Asia and Latin America. Barriers of access to HIV/AIDS services comprised inadequate management of guidelines and referral systems, discriminatory attitudes, language differences, unstable legal status, and financial hardship. Though health systems management varied across countries, international partners consistently played a critical role in providing support for HIV/AIDS services to uninsured migrants and refugees.
Conclusion: It was evident that HIV/AIDS health care problems for migrants were a major concern in many developing nations. However, there was little evidence suggesting if the current health systems effectively addressed those problems or if such management would sustainably function if support from global partners was withdrawn. More in-depth studies were recommended to further explore those knowledge gaps.

Keywords: migrant, refugee, low- and middle-income countries, HIV/AIDS, health systems, scoping review

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