Argentine, Brazilian Truck Drivers at HIV Risk
April 14, 2003
Most Argentine truck drivers still engage in high-risk sexual activities, and they are suspected of contributing to the spread of HIV to poor teenagers and young women, according to new data presented in Havana at the Second Forum on HIV/AIDS/STD in Latin America and the Caribbean. A survey of 58 long-distance truck drivers in Buenos Aires found that 90 percent had unprotected sex at least once during the previous year, mostly with commercial sex workers but also with children and teenagers.Adapted from:
"They admitted wearing condoms only when they have sex with men or transvestites," said Alberto Quast, of the Benghalensis Association, a nongovernmental AIDS organization in Buenos Aires. Quast is also consultant to the government's National Program Against AIDS.
Of 58 drivers, 12 said they wore condoms with their regular sexual partner, but only for contraception. "Most of them think that a diagnosis of HIV infection equals a rapid death. Therefore, they assume that they might distinguish an HIV-positive sexual partner by his/her skin stains, shadowy eyes or extreme slimness," Quast said.
"Girls as young as nine years old are exchanging unprotected sex with truck drivers for a cup of milk and coffee in the poorest northern regions of the country," Quast said. Of the drivers, 56 had never undergone an HIV test, mostly because of "fear" or "lack of time."
Sexual behavior among 700,000 Brazilian truck drivers appears to be better. Social psychologist Jorge Luis de Souza Riscado, head of the project Universidaids of the Federal University of Alagoas in Brazil conducted a survey of 103 long-distance truck drivers. Almost 70 percent reported wearing a condom every time they have sexual encounters. However, about two-thirds had never tested for HIV due to "lack of time," "lack of opportunity," "laziness," "lack of symptoms" or "safe sexual practices."
04.11.03; Matías A. Loewy