Pakistani Truck Drivers Who Solicit Commercial Sex Workers, Use Injection Drugs Increasingly Vulnerable to HIV Transmission
Truck drivers in Pakistan soliciting commercial sex workers and using injection drugs while on long-distance travel are one of the most vulnerable groups to HIV transmission in the country, IRIN News reports. Most long-distance truck drivers, who often are away from home for months at a time, regularly engage in sex with both male and female commercial sex workers, and high injection drug use among truck drivers places them at an even greater risk of transmission, according to IRIN News. Some limited studies have found that HIV prevalence among female sex workers and long-distance truck drivers in Pakistan is 1% to 2%. The prevalence among injection drug users in some towns is as high as 10%, according to a study conducted by UNAIDS in 2004. In addition, Pakistan's Ministry of Health has found that more than 20% of female sex workers have engaged in sex with IDUs in the towns of Karachi and Lahore, where two of the country's largest truck terminals are located. According to IRIN News, although most truck drivers associate condoms with contraception, many do not see condoms as an HIV prevention method -- largely because there have been limited efforts to raise HIV/AIDS awareness among the group. Many truck drivers also view sex with commercial sex workers and injection drug use as part of their way of life, IRIN News reports. In addition, some truck drivers receive treatment for sexually transmitted infections from traditional healers rather than doctors. Some advocates have called for strengthened awareness campaigns that target truck drivers to help reduce their vulnerability to HIV transmission (IRIN News, 11/14).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.