Prevention of HIV/AIDS among truckers with support from Apollo tyres
 
 

Guwahati is one of the fastest growing cities of India. Guwahati is also the gateway of entire northeastern region and as such there is heavy movement of commercial vehicles in the area. Thousand of trucks pass through the city carrying coal from Meghalaya. The long distance truckers have to traverse through Guwahati to reach some high prevalence states like Manipur and Nagaland and these truckers may acquire HIV during their travel and carry the virus back to other parts of the country. There is clear evidence that the community of truckers is vulnerable to acquire HIV/AIDS due to higher prevalence of unsafe sexual practices, which results from varieties of social and economic factors as well as the nature of their work. As per available report approximately 36% of truckers are clients of sex workers and indulge themselves in unprotected sex. Therefore truckers represent a key “sub-segment” of the total male client population vulnerable for acquiring HIV/AIDS. Long distance truck driver and their helpers spend month at stretch on the highways and thus are away from their homes for extended period of time. These truckers away from their legitimate sex partners are more likely to engage in high risk sexual behavior. They may have multiple sex partners including female sex workers on the highways, or have other fixed partners on route or at places where they stop for rest or food. This results in a higher prevalence of sexually transmitted infections amongst truckers. A considerable number of truckers are also reported to have sex with male sex partners. The prevalence of STI makes them highly susceptible for acquiring HIV/AIDS. Thus the long distance truckers are generally at higher risk of HIV and can form Transmission Bridge from the areas of high prevalence to those of low prevalence. A large number of Female Sex Workers are operating on the highways are from villages nearby and offer sexual services to increase their income. Lack of information for self protection among these women is a serious concern. One in three truckers visits commercial sex workers and only and 18% of them uses condoms. With construction of new highways or up gradation of the present highways, many migrant laborers are involved in road construction and female migrant workers often sell sex to truckers aggravating the situation.

Realizing the gravity of the situation GOLD approached “Apollo Tyres Foundation” with the idea of providing health care facilities to the trucker’s community. Accordingly ATF was considerate enough to provide all assistance to GOLD for this noble endeavor and on 26th April 2012 the ATHCC-GOLD was set up at Beharbari, Guwahati in presence of important dignitaries from Apollo Tyres Foundation and government machinaries. Now ATHCC-GOLD Guwahati is located at 1st floor, Ganesh Market, Beharbari Chariali, Beltola .

Apollo Tyres Foundation Health care Centre

Truckers did not have any national-level formal collective structure which can be used to facilitate the HIV prevention program at uniform and structured level in the national platform. Establishment of Health Care Centre by Apollo Tyre Foundation in different locations of the country has provided a collective effort for prevention of HIV/AIDS among truckers. This is has been done under the initiatives of “Corporate Social Responsibility”. An Integrated Counseling and Testing Centre has also been annexed to the Health Clinic and this has highly augmented the services of the project to curb transmission HIV among truckers. An MoU has been signed with Assam AIDS Control Society for the purpose.

  • To prevent the sexually transmitted infections and HIV/AIDS among the truckers community.
  • Provide training and demonstration of different Stake Holders to enhance the knowledge of STI and HIV/AIDS.
  • To organize different types of Behavior Change Communication activities to aware the trucker’s to practice risk free behavior.
  • Availability of counseling and outreach services to the truckers and their sex partners.
  • Provide Medical care and laboratory investigation to the transport workers.
  • HIV testing.
  • Referral services.
  • Vision care and free distribution of spectacles. GOLD has entered into a MoU with the National Blindness Control Program in Assam for medical care of the persons with impaired vision.

APOLLO TYRES HELTH CARE CLINIC AT AGARTALA

Agartala is the third largest city in the entire northeast India. The city also shares long international border with Bangladesh The long distance truckers have to traverse through some high prevalence states like Mizoram, Manipur and Nagaland to reach Tripura, These truckers may acquire HIV during transit and transmit the virus to general population of the state. It has been also reported that there are hundreds of sex workers those are ready to sell sex to the truckers on highways and these sex workers are not adequately aware of HIV/AIDS. The existing health care facilities are not accessible to the truckers and they suffer from innumerable health related problems without any remedial measure. Realizing the gravity of the situation GOLD entered into a partnership with Apollo Tyres Foundation with the idea of providing health care facilities to the trucker’s community in the interstate truck terminus of Agartala. Accordingly one Health Care Centre was set up in the interstate truck terminus at Agartala and the project was formally launched on 29th March 2018 at Jirania , Madhab Bari. The project was inaugurated by Project Director of Tripura AIDS Control Society .Some additional activities will also be planned for near future like eye screening camp, drug de-addiction therapy and education on road safety measures.