(formerly IRIN News) Journalism from the heart of crises

HIV infection less likely among refugees - UN

African refugees are unjustly discriminated against in the continent's fight against HIV/AIDS, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has said.

Following a study examining the prevalence of HIV infection among 800,000 refugees in seven African countries, UNHCR debunked assumptions that refugees were more likely to carry the deadly virus than the general population.

UNHCR senior health officer for HIV/AIDS, Dr Paul Spiegel, said that in five of the seven countries, refugees were actually less likely to be HIV-positive, but because there was little understanding of the facts, discrimination against refugees was widespread.

"For numerous reasons, it was always considered that refugees had a higher HIV risk and therefore had a higher HIV infection rate. And we are finding that this is not the case," Spiegel said.

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