Sustainable health systems and strategies

HIV and migration and 5 years of PrEP in Belgium

The nexus between HIV and migration is gaining attention. Migration to the EU could increase by up to 44% between now and 2030 due to conflict, poverty and climate change. Researchers from ITM’s Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) Research Group worked with UNAIDS on a review to assess the level to which HIV affects migrants and what their access to the HIV care continuum is. The findings show that HIV is more prevalent among migrants living in precarious circumstances. They experience multiple barriers in accessing HIV prevention and care: migration and health policies, the health system, the community and on the individual level. To end AIDS by 2030, it is crucial to ensure equitable access to health services, regardless of immigration status, and to implement stigma-reducing interventions.

2022 marked an important highlight for HIV care in Belgium: five years of oral PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis), a highly effective pill for reducing the risk of HIV infection. As of 2023, in the framework of an FWO-project, ITM will be among the first to investigate the feasibility of providing injectable PrEP to men who have sex with men in Belgium, which is a highly efficacious novel tool.

Nöstlinger et al. HIV among migrants in precarious circumstances in the EU and European Economic Area, The Lancet HIV, 2022