Africa: Border "Pit Stop" Teaches Truckers and Communities They Pass Through About AIDS
November 30, 2005
UN World Food Program trucks bringing desperately needed supplies may also be helping spread HIV in some of the world's most infected countries. To counter the problem, WFP said Tuesday it is setting up "pit stops" that provide HIV prevention information to truckers and the communities they pass through in at least two southern African countries.
Around 600 WFP trucks have crossed this year into drought-stricken Malawi, where an estimated one in seven adults is HIV-positive. Truckers are considered one of the groups most at-risk for the disease due to their mobility and exposure to casual sex.
The first WFP center opened in October at Malawi's Mwanza border crossing, through which some 70 percent of all road freight into Malawi passes. "Long nights, young men far from home and an abundance of poor young women makes this a perfect location for HIV to spread, and an ideal place to intervene to stop it," said WFP Country Director Dom Scalpelli. Operating out of two containers, the center offers advice on AIDS education, treatment for minor infections, and referrals for HIV testing, counseling and care.
WFP set up the Mwanza center with funding and logistic support from Malawian Ministry of Health, TNT global mail company and the Swedish International Development Agency. The initiative is patterned after a venture in South Africa, where the freight industry and charities set up mobile health clinics along major routes to help educate truckers about AIDS.
WFP is also planning centers targeting workers at its warehouse in Blantyre, Malawi's commercial capital, and the port in Beira, Mozambique, which receives food supplies.
11.30.05; Alexandra Zavis
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.