Sexual Cultures and Migration in the Era of AIDS: Anthropological and Demographic Perspectives

By Gilbert Herdt | Go to book overview

5 Population Movement and the AIDS Epidemic in Thailand

ANCHALEE SINGHANETRA-RENARD


Introduction

The intensity of the HIV/AIDS epidemic among highly mobile populations and in dynamic areas comprised of various mobile groups in Thailand points to the importance of population movement as a crucial factor in this epidemic. Determining the patterns of population mobility is thus critical to understanding the diffusion patterns of HIV/AIDS. Areas seemingly not linked with one another may in fact actually be closely tied through spatial mobility. Such connections are pertinent to interpreting epidemiological data, formulating policy for control intervention, and care.

Routine surveillance of and epidemiological data on HIV/AIDS in Thailand show the northern region as having the highest concentration of HIV/AIDS infection among blood donors, pregnant women, military conscripts, male STD patients, commercial sex workers, and intravenous drug users from 1990-2. This situation points to the need for a closer look at structural changes of migration and their implication on the spread of HIV/AIDS in this country.


The Nature of Population Movement in Thailand

Socioeconomic development since the beginning of the 1960s has resulted in Thailand emerging as a newly industrialized country. The growth of manufacturing, construction, service, and tourist industries and their need for labour on the one hand, and the decline in agricultural demand for labour on the other, have resulted in an ever-increasing separation between home and workplace for many rural dwellers. Labour circulation is now the dominant form of population movement in Thai society.

Daily commuting, seasonal migration, and periodic short- and long-term circulation are undertaken by both the rural and urban population for employment, trade, education, and entertainment as well as for other sociocultural reasons. These include familial rites, religious functions, services, and tours. Temporary and short-term migration has now become a part of village life. As many people live in and move between two or more places conventional population

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