Migration, Social Capital and HIV/AIDS: A study of Rajasthani migrants in Mumbai and Ahmedabad

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Singh, Devender
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This study explored the relationship of migrants’ sociodemographic characteristics and social capital with HIV risk to contribute to our understanding of migration and HIV dynamics. The study was undertaken among Rajasthani migrants of age 18 and above in Mumbai and Ahmedabad. The data were collected from 1598 migrants through survey method and 73 migrants through qualitative methods from January to June 2007. Having casual partners, sex with a sex worker and no or inconsistent condom use with sex worker were used as the measures for HIV risk. There were significant differences among migrants. Mumbai had more people in the higher age category, married and with longer duration of migration. Ahmedabad had more migrants who were younger, unmarried, with regular jobs and more workdays per month. Migrants in Mumbai and Ahmedabad differed in the nature and content of social capital. Bonding and linking social capital were higher in Ahmedabad than Mumbai while bridging social capital was higher in Mumbai than Ahmedabad. Migrants engaged in high risk behaviour in Mumbai and Ahmedabad. Ahmedabad had more people reporting having casual partners (251; 31.6 percent vs. 134; 16.7 percent), sex with a sex worker (138; 17.4 percent vs. 80; 10 percent) and irregular or no condom use (96; 12.1 percent vs. 27; 3.4 percent) than Mumbai. Migrants at destination place had five times higher chances of having sex with a sex worker than villages. The nature of job, steady or fluctuating income and mode of salary receipt were the common significant variables in both Mumbai and Ahmedabad. Social capital was associated with the three HIV risk measures in overall, domain and component forms; however, the relationship was complex. HIV risk was mediated by ‘buddy’ and ‘daddy’ culture in Ahmedabad and Mumbai, respectively. Presence of senior community members in Mumbai lowered the risk in Mumbai while membership in buddy networks led to higher risk for migrants in Ahmedabad. In conclusion, migrant was not a homogenous category. The differences in sociodemographic characteristics and social capital informed the differential HIV risk in migrants. It is important to understand migrants’ lived experiences to plan effective HIV prevention programs.
Public Health, HIV/AIDS, Migration, Social Capital, India, Epidemiology