Understanding the link between trafficking in persons and HIV and AIDS risk in Tanzania
The magnitude of trafficking in persons in Tanzania is unknown. Consequently, available information on health risks of persons trafficked for different forms of exploitation is extremely scanty. We conducted a baseline study in eight administrative regions of Tanzania using both qualitative and quantitative methods to generate data on the health conditions of trafficked persons to inform trafficking in persons control measures through HIV and AIDS interventions. Study participants included the national, regional and district community development officers, district medical officers, local government leaders, managers or representatives of non-governmental organizations involved in anti-trafficking in persons activities, members of the community and victims. Findings indicated that common forms of labour into which persons are trafficked include domestic services, agriculture (farming), construction, mining/quarrying, fishing, lumbering and manufacturing. Trafficked persons are reported to be exposed to risks like overcrowding, long working hours, psychological problems, physical injuries, impotence, breathing problems and sexually transmitted infections including HIV. It is concluded that the reported occupational hazards in industries where trafficked persons are forced into are not specific to trafficked persons as they affect all labourers. However, the underground nature of the trafficking in persons process increases health problems and risks, including the vulnerability to HIV infection. More tailored research is needed, especially to find means of how to reach out and provide services to this particular vulnerable population, validate labour forms of exploitation into which persons are trafficked to enable the integration or mainstreaming of HIV and AIDS and trafficking in persons at the policy and programmatic levels. In addition, findings would facilitate the understanding of the link between increased risk of HIV and trafficking in persons.