Positive – HIV/AIDS Among Migrant Construction Workers in India

Positive – HIV/AIDS Among Migrant Construction Workers in India


Khursheed’s story is not too different from
the many other migrant construction workers who face a lot more every day because they
are HIV positive. In India, construction is one of the fastest
growing sectors engaging a large number of migrant workers from many places. (Different people answering the names of different
places) As many workers migrate alone, they face social
and cultural isolation in
the city. They have low knowledge about HIV
and AIDS. Many workers tend to indulge in commercial
sex generally available near construction sites. This makes them vulnerable to HIV infection. The ILO conducted a study among construction
workers in Panvel, Maharashtra. The study showed:
Workers had low knowledge of HIV and AIDS. 25% workers had sex with casual partners.
25% workers did not use condoms while having casual sex. Women workers were found to be even more vulnerable,
facing sexual exploitation and working as part time sex workers, particularly when work
was less. The ILO is undertaking advocacy with key stakeholders
and also developing innovative models of Public Private Partnership and engagement of unions. The national AIDS control program in India,
one of the key priorities is to reach out to migrant workers. And what we are trying
to do at the ILO is look at migrant workers in some of those economic sectors, which engage
a large number of migrant workers. And construction is one such sector. The ILO has started a pilot Project with Nirman
Mazdoor Sanghathan- a state level labour union in Maharashtra, which is reaching out to over
10,000 workers and their families at bastis, nakas and construction sites. Being the first of its kind intervention,
the project shows how unions can take up HIV intervention amongst migrant construction
workers. The union has trained over a hundred peer
educators who work to spread awareness every day. Workers are learning to protect themselves
against HIV, through the efforts of peer educators. Going beyond awareness, the union also provides
easy access to condoms so that workers can protect themselves. Engagement of HIV positive workers like Khursheed
as outreach workers has turned out to be one of the effective strategies for the project. The project is also helping workers access
government facilities for HIV counseling, testing and treatment. Taking an overall health and welfare approach, this
project displays added advantages of working through trade unions. The union organizes
workers and also works to gives them an identity. The union was also able to mobilize support
from builders and contractors for organizing health camps. Construction being one of the most accident
prone sectors, the union plays a key role in getting health services as well as compensation
to workers in case of work place injuries. (S. M. Afsar)
The key to the success of
the Nirman Mazdoor project is that they have been very careful in working
with the local stakeholders like builders and contractors. They say we are not going
to unionize the workers at sites. We are taking the health and welfare approach. That made
builders comfortable, that made contractors comfortable. They also came forward to support
the project. HIV infection is preventable with timely intervention.
Now there is treatment available that enhances the productive life of people living with
HIV substantially. Reaching out to mobile and migrant workers
is a key focus of the National AIDS Control Program. All stakeholders in the construction sector,
the labour department, construction companies and unions must come forward and play a role
in the National AIDS Control Program in collaboration with the State AIDS control Societies.
Lets work together to protect our workers who make a significant contribution to the
sector and the economy. Let’s ensure that no worker gets the HIV
infection. Let’s support HIV positive workers to live
a dignified productive life. Let’s ensure that no worker faces discrimination
like Komal and Khusheed did.

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One thought on “Positive – HIV/AIDS Among Migrant Construction Workers in India”

  •  doing a good job,,,,,,  please make more awarness movies in the way they understand,,,, and make more adds on public areas that should be visible and understndable by each and every one thank you.

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