Sex Education Steers India's Truckers Away From AIDS Highway
February 8, 2005
Working months at a time, over two-thirds of India's 3 million long-haul truckers have frequent unprotected sex, according to a study cited by the international charity AVERT. And just 11 percent of them use condoms, AVERT found. Truckers are 10 times more likely to be HIV-infected and comprise as much as 12 percent of India's HIV-infected adults, according to the TCI Foundation, the HIV prevention arm of Transport Corp. of India, one of India's largest trucking companies.
In Nelamangala, where truckers stop for food, alcohol, work and sex along National Highway Seven north of Bangalore, TCI counselors gather truckers and show them STD picture slides. While some of then truckers crack jokes during the presentation, many pay attention as images of STD-infected male and female genitals flip into view, and they even stay for a condom-use demonstration. A nearby clinic examines truckers for STDs and, at a trucker's request, tests for HIV.
TCI's project at the site, funded by an $8 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, has recorded 500 STD cases in the past six months, said Biswajit Panda, TCI's regional coordinator. To expand the reach of TCI's program, 36 truckers and the brokers who give them work have become peer educators to spread the message of condom use. The program provides free antibiotics to treat infections and provides local shops with condoms to sell for two rupees (five U.S. cents) for a pack of four.
Some 40 female sex workers and 30 eunuchs work at Nelamangala. At a bathhouse run by eunuchs, a hot water bath and massage cost truckers 20 rupees (45 U.S. cents), but the condoms are free. "We pass out the condoms to protect us," said a eunuch named Banu.
Agence France Presse
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.