China

HIV transmission among rural migrants

One of the study's field survey teams. All photos by Dr. Fang Li, Wuhan Centers for Disease Prevention and Control

One of the study’s field survey teams. All photos by Dr. Fang Li, Wuhan Centers for Disease Prevention and Control

Domestic and international population migration is associated with the spread of HIV in both the migrants’ destination and place of origin, but the reasons for increased HIV risk behaviors among migrants aren’t well understood.

Professor Xinguang “Jim” Chen, M.D., Ph.D., of the department of epidemiology at the College of Public Health and Health Professions and the College of Medicine, is studying the prevalence of HIV risk behaviors among rural migrants in China, where 150 million migrants frequently move between rural and urban areas. China’s Ministry of Health and UNAIDS estimate there are more than 700,000 people living with HIV in China.

Chen’s research examines how changes in social capital, or social network connections, caused by migration may affect HIV risk behaviors, fueling the growing HIV epidemic in China. In this large NIH-funded project, participants were randomly selected using a GIS- and GPS-assisted technology devised by Chen and his team. The goal is to gain a better understanding of migration-related HIV transmission and to create and implement innovative HIV prevention programs.