Founded in January 2011, the NCHRC Farmworker Program reaches out to farm workers and day laborers, a group at high risk for infectious disease due to shared needle use and frequent visits from sex workers.
Studies report that as many as 23% of migrant laborers and farm workers inject substances so they can better perform in their jobs. The grueling physical requirements of farm work lead many to inject vitamins and steroids for strength, as well as pain relievers for pain management. Isolation from medical facilities and pharmacies and lack of transportation makes it difficult for workers to access clean syringes, so it is not uncommon for one needle to be shared throughout a camp of thirty men or more, leading to high rates of HIV and hepatitis C.
The absence of women (>80% of farm workers are men) also increases the risk of viral infection, as many migrants receive frequent visits from sex workers. Additionally, a recent study on migrant workers in North Carolina indicates that the men are likely to forgo the use of a condom if they are familiar with the sex worker.
The NCHRC Farmworker program reaches out to migrant laborers and farm workers in the communities and camps where they live and work to offer education, testing and supplies for safe injection and safe sex.