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HIV risk behaviours among contracted and non-contracted male migrant workers in India: potential role of labour contractors and contractual systems in HIV prevention

Saggurti, Niranjana; Verma, Ravi Kb; Jain, Anrudhc; RamaRao, Saumyac; Kumar, K Anild; Subbiah, Anjaneyalue; Modugu, Hamini Reddyf; Halli, Shivag; Bharat, Shalinid

doi: 10.1097/

Objective(s): To assess the HIV risk behaviours of male migrant contracted and non-contracted labourers in India and to understand the role of contract labour systems for use in HIV prevention efforts.

Methods: Cross-sectional surveys (N = 11 219) were conducted with male migrant workers, aged 18–49 years from 21 districts in four high HIV prevalence states of India. Analyses involved data from the subsample of contracted labour (n = 3880; 35% of total sample) to assess the prevalence of HIV risk behaviours and sexually transmitted infection (STI) symptoms and further comparisons with non-contracted labourers.

Results: Contracted male labourers are largely young; 70% were between the ages of 18 and 29 years. Over half (55%) were married, and a third (34%) resided away from their wives because of migrant work. More than one in six contract labourers (17%) reported having sex with a sex worker, and two-fifths of these reported an inconsistent use of condoms. One in 10 reported sex with both sex workers and non-spousal unpaid female partners in the past year in the places they had migrated to, and 31% reported sex with either a sex worker or non-spousal unpaid female partner in their places of origin over the past 2 years. After adjustment for sociodemographic characteristics, the contracted labourers were significantly more likely to report alcohol use and HIV risk behaviours than non-contracted labourers.

Conclusion: The existence of a wide network of labour contractors and a structured infrastructure of the contract system provides opportunities for effective and sustained worksite HIV prevention programmes among contracted male migrant workers in India.

aHIV and AIDS Programme, Population Council, New Delhi, India

bInternational Center for Research on Women, New Delhi, India

cPopulation Council, New York, USA

dSchool of Health Systems, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, India

eDepartment of Population Studies, Annamalai University, Tamil Nadu, India

fTNS India Private Limited, New Delhi, India

gKarnataka Health Promotion Trust, Bangalore, India.

Correspondence and requests for reprints to Saggurti Niranjan, Population Council, 142 Golf Links, 1st Floor, New Delhi 110 003, India. E-mail:

© 2008 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.