Journal of Public Health Policy

, Volume 32, Supplement 1, pp S152–S161 | Cite as

Exploring perceptions of HIV risk and health service access among Zimbabwean migrant women in Johannesburg: A gap in health policy in South Africa?

  • Pascalia MunyewendeEmail author
  • Laetitia C Rispel
  • Bronwyn Harris
  • Matthew Chersich


We present qualitative data from a 2005 exploratory study, recently published studies, and an analysis of the Department of Health's strategic plan to highlight the need for a broader policy debate on health-care access for migrants in South Africa. We conducted in-depth interviews with 15 Zimbabwean women living in inner-city Johannesburg to document the special characteristics of this group of migrants, enquiring about their perceptions of HIV risk, and experiences of health services in South Africa. We identified access barriers, namely perceptions of relatively low HIV risk, severely constrained financial circumstances, uncertain legal status, and experiences of unresponsive health workers. We recommend that migrant-health rights be placed on South Africa's policy agenda, migrants be included in HIV prevention programs and that health workers be sensitized to the needs of migrants.


HIV knowledge migrants health-seeking health service access South Africa Zimbabwe 



Thanks to Ashnie Padarath and Phyllis Freeman for editorial assistance. The article is based on Pascalia Munyewende's research report submitted in partial fulfillment for the Master of Arts degree at the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. We thank Ms Gayatri Singh, the research supervisor, the women who participated in the study, their supporting organizations, and the Wits Forced Migration Studies department.


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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pascalia Munyewende
    • 1
    Email author
  • Laetitia C Rispel
    • 1
  • Bronwyn Harris
    • 1
  • Matthew Chersich
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Centre for Health Policy & Medical Research Council Health Policy Research Group, School of Public Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, JohannesburgJohannesburgSouth Africa
  2. 2.Department of Obstetrics and GynecologyInternational Centre for Reproductive Health, Ghent UniversityGhentBelgium

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