Background: Ethiopian immigration to Israel was initiated in 1981. Most immigrants were rural dwellers who migrated first to Addis Ababa or Gondar, where they waited for eligibility status from Israel to leave Ethiopia. Soon after arriving in Israel, all immigrants were offered screening tests for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and syphilis.
Objectives: To evaluate the association of age, gender, marital status and length of time spent in urban areas in Ethiopia with the prevalence of HIV and syphilis seropositivity.
Methods: All adult Ethiopian immigrants who arrived at the Jerusalem immigration center between 1999 and 2002 and consented to HIV and syphilis screening tests were interviewed.
Results: Altogether, 678 immigrants (51% females) were screened; 39 (5.8 %) were seropositive for HIV and 33 (4.9%) for syphilis. The length of time the immigrants spent in Ethiopian cities before leaving for Israel was significantly associated with HIV: odds ratio (OR) 2.76, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.13–6.71, and syphilis seropositivity OR 3.87, 95%CI 1.56–9.62.
Conclusions: The length of transit time Ethiopian immigrants from rural areas spend in Ethiopian cities is significantly associated with HIV and syphilis seropositivity. Efforts should be made to shorten this time in order to reduce the risk of infection