Background: Worldwide, migration and mobility have been associated with many health consequences, such as infectious disease transmission (e.g., HIV/STI infection) and mental health problems. However, little research has been done considering more dynamic processes and comprehensive migration and mobility patterns and how they impact vulnerable populations’ health.
Objectives: Specific aims include: 1) to analyze if specific migration experiences, such as short-term travel to engage in sex work in another country and recent migration, are associated with recent HIV testing among female sex workers (FSW) at the Mexico-Guatemala border; 2) to analyze if forced migration, short-term migration, rural-urban migration, and deportation are associated with depressive symptoms among migrants at the Mexico-Guatemala border, and 3) to determine the prevalence and correlates of less intra-urban mobility (i.e., short or none commute distance from residence to work) of female sex workers with HIV/STI acquisition and other structural risks such as interaction with law enforcement, and work environment risks among a cohort of female sex workers in Tijuana, Mexico.
Methods: Aim 1 and 2 used cross-sectional data collected among female sex workers and recent migrants at the Mexico-Guatemala border (project Cruzando Fronteras). Aim 3 used a longitudinal cohort study data of FSW in Tijuana, Mexico (Mapa de Salud).
Results: We found that short-term travel to engage in sex work in another country was independently associated with HIV testing in the past year. Recent rural-urban migrants and short-term migrants had higher odds of having possible major depressive symptoms but recent international migration was protective. Less intra-urban mobility was associated with increased risk of acquiring syphilis, injection drug use, and vulnerable living conditions.
Conclusions: Study findings highlight the need to address comprehensive and complex migration and mobility experiences (e.g., less intra-urban mobility) to improve FSW and recent migrant sexual and mental health at Mexico’s borders. Recommendations for interventions and future research are discussed.