Description of the Population
Throughout the world there is a history of human migration to follow food supplies. In the United States today, migrant and seasonal farm workers (MSFW) follow three major agricultural streams. The East Coast stream consists mostly of native African Americans, Latinos, and Caribbean Islanders. The central stream is made up primarily of Mexicans and native-born Spanish Americans. The West Coast stream also consists of mainly Mexicans. Overall, the group composition consists of mostly Latino (about 70%) and African Americans and Caribbean Islanders (about 27% combined) (Go & Baker, 1995; Organistra & Organistra, 1997). The majority of MSFW are Mexican migrants. The states that employ the largest numbers of MSFW are California, Texas, Florida, North Carolina, and Washington (Go & Baker, 1995). The exact number of MSFW is difficult to determine because of their transient nature, migration in and out of the country, undercounting of workers who do not meet the definition of a migrant, and the desire of some workers to avoid contact with governmental agencies (Rust, 1990). Even governmental agencies have different numbers in the population because of different definitions of migrants. The Office of Migrant Health's estimate is 4.1 million and includes the farm workers and their dependents (Organistra & Organistra, 1997). Rust (1990) pointed out that the lack of accuracy regarding the actual number of MSFW affects the calculation of morbidity and mortality data for the population.
A review of the literature on MSFW and AIDS in the United States (Organistra & Organistra, 1997) found that typically the pay is low for MSFW, which means a low socioeconomic status. The education level is also low at between 4 years and 7 years of education for Mexican migrants and 9 years for Blacks. The majority of the workers are young (average age is 25 years) and male.
The population's poverty, limited education, and constant mobility all influence health care practices. Additional …