HIV prevalence rate among long distance truck drivers is high, this is mainly because their lifestyles provide many opportunities for risky sexual behaviour
By Violet Nabatanzi
HIV prevalence rate among long distance truck drivers is high, this is mainly because their lifestyles provide many opportunities for risky sexual behaviour and yet they have limited access to HIV prevention, testing and counselling.
This is according to a study carried out by Knowledge management and communication capacity building Initiative (KMCC).
Presenting the report at Silver springs, Maria Kwesiga a research consultant at KMCC said HIV/AIDS among truck drivers ranges between 25 percent and 32 percent, considerably higher than the average prevalence nationally of 7.3 percent.
According to the report, 98 percent of long distance truck drivers are knowledgeable about HIV; however this does not translate into safer sexual behaviour.
In Uganda there are about 31,500 long distance truck drivers, they move goods along major corridors within Uganda and to and from neighbouring countries.
The transport sector is a major vector in the spread and transmission of HIV/AIDS because of the constant stream of large numbers of people along transport routes.
The report calls for urgent need to upscale targeted HIV-prevention efforts to long distance truck drivers.
“There is a need for a much larger and more coordinated effort to tackle the vulnerability of long distance truck drivers to HIV/AIDS,” the report recommends.
The report also reveals that prevalence of HIV in sex workers is five to six times the average prevalence in the population.
According to world health organisation (WHO) the prevalence among female sex workers tested in Kampala stands at 37 percent.
Wasswa Katende a truck driver said; some of the drivers end up engaging in other relationships because they spend most the time travelling.
The supervisor of Most at risk population initiative (MARPI) Margaret Ayebare said; there is high rate of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) among most at risk population.
She attributed the increase of infections to lack of knowledge.” People tend to sit on diseases not until one feels badly off, the health seeking behaviors among the key populations are not good,” Ayebare said.
HIV prevalence high amongst truck drivers –report