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India, South Africa Reach Out To Truck Drivers In Fight Against HIV/AIDS

PTI/The Hindu examines a recently launched national HIV prevention program that will target an estimated 5 million truck drivers in India, a group health experts consider to be at high-risk for HIV.

“Quite often these truckers are clients or partners of male and female sex workers because of their separation from regular partners for long time. Such sex practices make them vulnerable to sexually transmitted disease which they can transmit to other persons,” said A. K. Khera, additional director general of the National Aids Control Organization (NACO), the group in charge of the outreach effort.

NACO plans to work in collaboration with the Transport Corporation of India to target 131 transport hubs across India in hopes of raising HIV/AIDS awareness and promoting safe sex through the use of condoms.

The article also examines similar efforts to increase HIV/AIDS prevention among truck drivers in India such as Project Kavach, a program funded by the India AIDS initiative of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (PTI/The Hindu, 5/31).

The Sydney Morning Herald reports on the effect HIV/AIDS has had on trucking in South Africa. Although men have traditionally occupied truck driving jobs, the HIV/AIDS toll on males in the country has led more women to fill theses positions. In South Africa, “[a]bout one in four truckers is estimated to have HIV,” and “[a]bout 3,000 truck drivers a year are lost to AIDS as well as accidents, hijackings, alcoholism and other causes,” the Sydney Morning Herald writes.

To bolster HIV/AIDS education and prevention among the country’s 70,000 truck drivers, South Africa’s transportation industry started an initiative called Trucking Wellness, which runs 15 wellness centers on main transportation routes and four mobile clinics that offer counseling, condoms and free antiretrovirals (Smith, Sydney Morning Herald, 5/30).

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