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Refugee and migrant populations are considered to be at high risk from sexually transmitted infection (STI) and HIV. Cross-sectional surveys for syphilis and HIV were conducted in antenatal clinics (ANCs) on the Thai-Burmese border. In Mae La refugee camp, the seroprevalence of HIV and syphilis were 0.2% (one of 500) (95% CI 0–1.1) and 0% (0 of 404) (95% CI 0–0.9) in 1997; and 0.4% (two of 500) (95% CI 0.1–1.4) and 0.4% (three of 741) (95% CI 0.1–1.2) in 2005, respectively; syphilis seroprevalence in migrant women in 2005 was 0 (0 of 234) (95% CI 0–1.6). The seroprevalence was lower than that reported from surrounding ANCs for Thai or Burmese women. Focus group discussions with HIV-negative and -positive pregnant refugee women established that aspects of Karen culture and isolation (geographical and political) had a significant protective role from HIV and STI. This survey has resulted in programmatic changes in services to pregnant women in this area.

Original publication





International Journal of STD & AIDS


SAGE Publications

Publication Date





833 - 837