High HIV/AIDS Prevalence in a Suburban Area in Ghana: A Context Analysis of Its Relationship to Human Trafficking
Since HIV/AIDS was first recorded in Ghana in the early 1980s, the Manya Krobo area in the Eastern Region of Ghana has persistently recorded the highest HIV/AIDS prevalence rate in the country. While HIV/AIDS prevalence in Ghana compared to other countries in the sub-region is relatively low (1.3%), local variations in HIV prevalence in the country is a cause for concern. Whereas the Manya Krobo study area has a current prevalence rate of 11.6% (MoH, 2014), almost nine times higher than the national average, other regions remain virtually untouched (Osafo et al., 2013). In just twelve and a half years (2005-2013), HIV/AIDS prevalence rate in the Manya Krobo area rose from 6.0% to 11.6% (MoH, 2014). Extant studies have attributed the extremely high incidence of HIV/AIDS in the Manya Krobo area to labor migration. Furthermore, commentators (Piper, 2005; OSCE, 2004) on this subject contend that human trafficking thrives where labor migration abounds. While human trafficking exists both internally and transnationally, studies on the subject have focused mainly on trafficking across borders (Rahman, 2011). Adopting a broad development framework and drawing extensively on postmodernists thought, this research critically examines whether the high labor migration occurrence in the Manya Krobo area has elements of internal human trafficking, which in turn, contributes to the high prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the study area. The findings of the study suggest some relationship between internal migratory movements, human trafficking, and HIV/AIDS, however, further research with a larger sample size is needed to validate this conclusion. While most people are trafficked in the process of migrating, both labor migrants and trafficked persons became susceptible to HIV/AIDS due to the deplorable conditions under which they work. The study revealed a relatively high incidence of HIV/AIDS infection among older respondents 50 years and above at 20.4% - almost one-third of the percentage of respondents in the productive and reproductive age group of 22-49 years. This study finding indicates that HIV does not exclusively affect younger people. The study identified a number of mediating factors underlying the concentration of HIV/AIDS in the study area, including non-disclosure, stigma, proliferation of microfinance institutions (MFIs), cultural practices, and widowers and widows remarrying without checking their HIV/AIDS status. Finally, the study noted that the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the Manya Krobo area creates a complex web of socioeconomic problems in the form of poverty, women-headed households, high presence of widows and widowers, orphans and vulnerable children (OVC), child labor and low economic activities, all of which perpetuates a cycle of HIV infection in the area. The study concludes that the experienced realities of poverty, unemployment, stigma and social exclusion compel research participants to make constructed choices, which in turn fuel the spread of the disease in the area.
Migration, human trafficking, HIV/AIDS, globalization, SAPS, trade liberalization, Manya Krobo, Ghana
Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)