to live in the most precarious conditions and disperse throughout China to evade the authorities.
In Mongolia, there is an increase in mobility both internally and across borders but there is limited information available on the potential HIV vulnerable sub-populations. Internal migrants have till recently been denied urban registration but recent challenges from the Human Rights Commission have changed this. Nevertheless, many rural-urban migrants live in poor and marginalised situations. These people are particularly at risk if the virus becomes more widespread.
Thus it is fairly easily to identify factors increasing vulnerability to HIV/AIDS and this needs to be done quickly. Migrants may be more vulnerable away from home but if and when they do return home, and many in China do, they run the risk of taking the virus back with them. This has begun to happen in China — just as it has happened in Africa, India and Sri Lanka, to name a few examples.
(b) Reasons for lack of information and research on this topic
Overall, there is limited knowledge about the studied area, Northeast China and Mongolia, on cross-border mobility — such as strength and frequency of activity, age, sex, occupation and education structure of the migrants or travellers, travelling status, whether or not they travel with their family or alone, how long they stay in the destination, how frequently they change places, living and working conditions, social support in destination, incomes that they make in their destination, what they do and where they go after work, what kind of health services they have used and prefer to use, what they know about the service and opinions about it. Numerous questions need to be answered and this is an important task to be taken before any programs can be designed.
Questions need to be asked as to why the situation of migrants has been an area of research that has not attracted much attention. Some possible reasons are:
general unwillingness to acknowledge or recognise the increasing levels of internal mobility in North East Asia, as this often goes against systems of registration and indicates a failure or breakdown of these systems;
cross-border mobility is often irregular, unwelcome and ‘hidden’, and acknowledgement of such movements would indicate a failure of the national system for controlling borders;
some mobility is contracted or ‘formal’ whilst most of it is informal or irregular, and therefore outside of any state or other controls and not seen as worthy of study or investigation;
the attitudes of governments may be that people who move without permission do not deserve protection or attention;
there is a general unwillingness to discuss sensitive matters, especially to do with sexual behaviour, sex workers, use of condoms, etc;