HIV prevalence ratio of international migrants compared to their native-born counterparts: A systematic review and meta-analysis


Background: People on the move, including international migrants, may face health inequities that expose them to a higher risk for HIV than native-born populations. We conducted a systematic review to calculate the HIV prevalence ratio of international migrants compared with native-born populations.

Methods: We searched five databases between January 2010 and March 2022. Using random-effects meta-analysis, we calculated the pooled HIV prevalence ratios (PR) by comparing the HIV prevalence of migrants with native-born populations. Our research protocol is registered in the International prospective register of systematic reviews (PROSPERO, CRD42021250867).

Findings: In total, 5,121 studies were screened, and 38 were included in the final analysis: 7,121,699 migrants and more than 270 million natives were included in the analysis. The pooled PR for any foreign-born migrants was 1.70 (95% CI 1·11–2·61, I2 =99.67%, n = 33 studies), refugees was 2.37 (95% CI 0.33–16.99, I2 =99·5%, n = 5), undocumented people was 3.98 (95% CI 0·11–143.01, I2 =94.6%, n = 3), whilst asylum seekers was 54.79 (95% CI 17.23–174.23, I2 =90·2%, n = 2). Meta-regression revealed that population type (adjusted R-squared 11.5%), region of origin (11.3%) and migrant type (10.8%) accounted for heterogeneity more than country-income (2.4%) and study setting (2.3%).

Interpretation: Although it was not possible to assess if HIV infection occurred in the country of origin or destination, the HIV prevalence ratio was higher among migrants than in native-born populations. Inclusive health policies and strategies for delivering HIV testing, prevention and treatment services for migrant populations tailored to their needs are urgently needed.


Santoso D, Asfia SKBM, Mello MB, Baggaley RC, Johnson CC, Chow EPF, Fairley CK, Ong JJ




  • Epidemiology and Determinants of Health
    • Epidemiology
  • Population(s)
    • Immigrants/Refugees/Non-status
    • General HIV+ population


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