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Mohammad Khairul Alam

Executive Director

Rainbow Nari O Shishu Kallyan Foundation

 

 

 


  The issue of AIDS in India: Sex Workers and Truck Drivers are playing vital roles

 

  

AIDS has become a global crisis. As of the end of 2005, an estimated 42 million people worldwide - 38 million adults and about 3 million children younger than 15 years - were living with HIV/AIDS. Approximately two-thirds of these people live in Sub-Saharan Africa; another 18 percent live in Asia and the Pacific. The pandemic kills millions, destroys families and communities and renders millions of children parentless. It threatens the social and economic fabric of many nations.

 

It is generally accepted that truck drivers have been and continue to be a main force in the spread of HIV to epidemic proportions. Truck driverís work long hours on the road and often spend several days in one place clearing customs or resolving mechanical problems.  Seeking entertainment, they turn to sex with women or girls in the prostitution or floating sex workers who are at high risk of being HIV/AID positive and transmitting HIV to the drivers. As a result, the drivers have high rates of HIV. Their highly mobile lifestyle requires a lot of travel. In other stopover town locations they visit other commercial male/female sex workers thereby potentially transmitting the virus. In addition, many of the truck drivers are married and also have girlfriends (commercial sex partner) who are likely to become infected with HIV and become a pool in their local communities.

 

Truck drivers and commercial sex workers constitute core transmitter populations of HIV/AIDS throughout India. The sexual interactions between these particular groups are conducive to rapid population-wide HIV/AIDS transmission. Other evidence supports the view HIV was introduced to Indian populations with pre-existing patterns of sexual behavior that have long been susceptible to high STI/STDs rates.

 

Sexual encounters between truck drivers and commercial sex workers are the basis of transmission of HIV in India. While, almost all truck drivers (98%) have heard of HIV/AIDS. The extent of knowledge about specific aspects of HIV/AIDS was less consistent. Correct knowledge of transmission by sexual contact was found in two-third (Bombay). Several studies have attempted to elucidate the percentage of truck drivers who actually do have sex with Commercial sex workers (CSWs) and if so, how often they do. 80% of the truck drivers are frequenting CSW.

 

Commercial sex workers (CSWs) have sex with different populations of men depending on their class. Some of the CSWs contacts were with regular partners. CSWs tend to be a highly mobile population and one of the main factors placing CSWs in high-risk categories is that they have multiple partners. Usage of condoms is still low among the truck driver population; however, it seems to be increasing. Ever usage of condoms seems to range between 25 and 60 percent. Knowledge surrounding condom use seems to be uneven. 90% of the truck drivers know condoms prevent transmission of HIV, many drivers were not aware of the proper storage techniques nor proper usage.

 

The classification of the partners of truck drivers is complex and not standardized across studies nor, at times, within studies.  Distinguishing between a casual and regular partner is often ambiguous. Many truck drivers report that they have had large numbers of sexual partners. About one-third of the drivers reported more than 50 lifetime partners. The number of partners in the recent past indicates a driverís current sexual behavior trend.

 

A recent survey in Bangladeshi track drivers conduct by Rainbow Nari O Shishu Kallyan Foundation, found that 80% track driver in Bangladesh have no clear concept of HIV or AIDS. But 90% respond it is a deadly disease. India is the second largest HIV/AIDS infected country in the world, more then 5.2 million people are living with AIDS or HIV. India is a neighboring country of Bangladesh, every day many people cross border movement take place both officially and also illegally. Due to reason of that great chance to spread out HIV/AIDS in Bangladesh.

 

 

Reference: UNAIDS, UNICEF, World Bank


 
   

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    AIDS, HIV, Gender, discrimination, empowerment, Sex worker, Female, Commercial, Floating, Street, Girls, Women, Lesbian, Gay, Homo, Sexuality, CSWs, FSWs, SWs, Injectable, Injection, User, Condom, Bangladesh, Dhaka, Mohammad Khairul Alam, Rainbow Nari O Shishu Kallyan Foundation