Nepal: HIV Link to Trek Tourism Studied
February 14, 2005
A team of researchers at Aberdeen University is studying the risk of STD infection between Nepalese trekking guides and tourists. Nepal is one of the world's fastest-growing adventure destinations, and public health experts consider travelers at high risk for STDs since they may lower their inhibitions while abroad.
"There is an urgent need to undertake this study to understand more fully the nature and extent of high-risk sexual activity among young Nepalese trekking guides," said Dr. Padam Simkhada, of the university's public health department. "Medical problems and health risks of trekkers or tourists are documented to some extent, but little information is known about the sexual activity of trekkers' guides." In addition, said Simkhada, "condoms are available in Nepal but are viewed by many as culturally and socially taboo."
In conjunction with the University of Southampton and Nepalese nongovernmental organizations, researchers will distribute about 500 questionnaires to trekking guides and the companies that hire them. In-depth interviews with the guides are also planned. Funding for the study was provided by the UK Department for International Development's Safe Passages to Adulthood program.
"Findings from this study could be very useful for the formation of appropriate public health policies, and could help to revise the existing training curriculum and training package for trekking guides," said Simkhada, who is from Nepal.
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.