BioScience Trends. 2007;1(2):72-80.
Sociodemographic characteristics, sexual behavior, and HIV risks of rural-to-urban migrants in China.
Because of China's increasing industrialization over the past two decades, many rural residents have migrated to urban areas but frequently return to visit their home villages. These rural-to-urban migrants are generally young, are better educated than non-migrating rural residents but less educated than their urban counterparts, are most likely employed in venues such as construction sites, factories, and commercial services, are usually separated from their families, and have limited access to health services. Risky sexual behaviors such as premarital sex, extramarital sex, and commercial sex are increasingly observed among rural-to-urban migrants. Some female and male migrants are themselves working as sex workers in urban areas. Although the rates of HIV infection and other sexually-transmitted infections (STIs) are still relatively low in general rural-to-urban migrants, they are rising in migrant sex workers. Increasingly observed risky sexual behaviors and prevalent STIs among migrants strongly suggest the serious potential for an expanding HIV epidemic in and beyond these migrant populations. Rural-to-urban migrants play a critical role in the spread of HIV in China and are an important target for HIV prevention and intervention programs. Such programs should be socially, demographically, and culturally tailored to rural-to-urban migrants.