Low seroprevalence of HIV and syphilis in pregnant women in refugee camps on the Thai-Burma border
Plewes K., Lee T., Kajeechewa L., Thwin MM., Lee SJ., Carrara VI., Nosten F., Mcgready R.
Refugee and migrant populations are considered to be at high risk from sexually transmitted infection (STI) and HIV. Cross-sectional surveys for syphilis and HIV were conducted in antenatal clinics (ANCs) on the Thai-Burmese border. In Mae La refugee camp, the seroprevalence of HIV and syphilis were 0.2% (one of 500) (95% CI 0–1.1) and 0% (0 of 404) (95% CI 0–0.9) in 1997; and 0.4% (two of 500) (95% CI 0.1–1.4) and 0.4% (three of 741) (95% CI 0.1–1.2) in 2005, respectively; syphilis seroprevalence in migrant women in 2005 was 0 (0 of 234) (95% CI 0–1.6). The seroprevalence was lower than that reported from surrounding ANCs for Thai or Burmese women. Focus group discussions with HIV-negative and -positive pregnant refugee women established that aspects of Karen culture and isolation (geographical and political) had a significant protective role from HIV and STI. This survey has resulted in programmatic changes in services to pregnant women in this area.