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Truck Park Trysts Fuel Nigerian AIDS Epidemic

December 9, 2005

Benin City, Nigeria, is a metropolis on the crossroads of southern trade routes, a stopover for truckers hauling goods to other West African towns. Many experts warn that HIV is set to explode there as it spreads into the general population from high-risk groups such as truckers, soldiers and sex workers. From brothels to motor parks, campaigns are targeting sex workers and their clients to help check HIV's spread.

"I hear about [AIDS], some girls have died of it, but I need to earn money. I don't have any other means" said Doris, a sex worker at Oluku, a motor park. "Every two months I do the test and so far my results are very good." Doris uses condoms "except with my boyfriend, and he gets tested every three months. I couldn't use a condom with him."

"Every day we are receiving four or five persons who come to talk about HIV and their fears toward the disease. We are counseling them, explaining to them how the virus can infect you and inviting them to use condoms," said Loveth Okundaye of Lift Above Poverty Organization, whose office is in Oluku. "But very few of them go for tests." "In fact we believe that if the test was free, there would be much more people to do it. But the girls, you know they are poor, that that is why they are sex workers, and they don't want to pay for a test."

Last year, the Society for Family Health -- which works to get sex workers out of the trade -- followed the cases of 40 young penniless students and single mothers in Oluku. Twelve quit sex work and two married. "Most of them take the risk for money," said Onoriode Ezire, SFH's Benin City coordinator. "Undesired pregnancy and lack of money are priorities for them more than HIV/AIDS."

Back to other news for December 9, 2005

Adapted from:
Agence France Presse
12.02.2005; Emmanuel Goujon

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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.
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