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Rural-to-urban migrants are at high risk of sexually transmitted and viral hepatitis infections in China: a systematic review and meta-analysis

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BMC Infectious Diseases

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      Rapid economic development in urban China has led to a mass migration of surplus rural residents into urban areas for better employment opportunities. This study aims to identify prevalence levels and risks of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and hepatitis among the rural-to-urban migrant population in China.


      Chinese and English literature databases were searched for studies reporting prevalence of HIV, STIs and viral hepatitis among rural-to-urban migrants in China between 1990 and 2013. The estimates were summarised through a systematic review and meta-analysis. The risks of infection were compared between migrants and the general Chinese population.


      We identified a total of 411 eligible studies. The prevalence of HIV, syphilis, gonorrhea, genital warts and HCV among migrants were 0.23% (0.20-0.27%), 0.69% (0.57-0.84%), 2.18% (1.30-3.64%), 1.54% (0.70-3.36%) and 0.45% (0.31-3.65%), representing 4.0 (3.1-5.2), 1.9 (1.1-3.0), 13.6 (5.8-32.1), 38.5 (15.7-94.5) and 3.8 (1.9-7.3) higher odds of infection than among the general population. Construction workers, long-distance truck drivers and migrant women through marriage were migrant subgroups that were highly susceptible to STIs and hepatitis. HIV prevalence among migrant pregnant women (0.10%, 0.02-0.49%) was significantly higher than that of pregnant women in the general Chinese population (OR = 7.7, 3.4-17.4). However, no significant differences were observed in STIs and hepatitis between overall female sex workers (FSWs), men who have sex with men (MSM) and drug users (DUs), and the corresponding subgroups with a migratory background.


      Rural-to-urban migrants have a higher risk of STIs and hepatitis than the general Chinese population, but a migratory background does not increase the infection risks of STIs and hepatitis in FSWs, MSM and DUs.

      Electronic supplementary material

      The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2334-14-490) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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      An adjusted rank correlation test is proposed as a technique for identifying publication bias in a meta-analysis, and its operating characteristics are evaluated via simulations. The test statistic is a direct statistical analogue of the popular "funnel-graph." The number of component studies in the meta-analysis, the nature of the selection mechanism, the range of variances of the effect size estimates, and the true underlying effect size are all observed to be influential in determining the power of the test. The test is fairly powerful for large meta-analyses with 75 component studies, but has only moderate power for meta-analyses with 25 component studies. However, in many of the configurations in which there is low power, there is also relatively little bias in the summary effect size estimate. Nonetheless, the test must be interpreted with caution in small meta-analyses. In particular, bias cannot be ruled out if the test is not significant. The proposed technique has potential utility as an exploratory tool for meta-analysts, as a formal procedure to complement the funnel-graph.
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            Author and article information

            [ ]Faculty of Medical Statistics and Epidemiology, School of Public Health, Sun Yat-sen University, #74, Zhongshan Road II, Guangzhou, 510080 P.R. China
            [ ]Sun Yat-sen Centre for Migrant Health Policy, Sun Yat-sen University, #74, Zhongshan Road II, Guangzhou, 510080 P.R. China
            [ ]The Kirby Institute, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW Australia
            [ ]Central Clinical School, Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, Monash University, Melbourne, VIC Australia
            [ ]Melbourne Sexual Health Centre, Alfred Health, Melbourne, VIC Australia
            BMC Infect Dis
            BMC Infect. Dis
            BMC Infectious Diseases
            BioMed Central (London )
            8 September 2014
            8 September 2014
            : 14
            : 1
            25200651 4169821 3800 10.1186/1471-2334-14-490
            © Zou et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2014

            This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly credited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

            Research Article
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            © The Author(s) 2014

            Infectious disease & Microbiology


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