The vulnerability factors to HIV transmission among long distance truck drivers working from Windhoek, Namibia

Majoni, Wilbert Kurauone (2014-04)

Thesis (MPhil)--Stellenbosch University, 2014.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Long distance truck drivers have been documented in many literatures as key in the spread of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). This generally is due to the nature of their work and the people they interact with, who are mainly commercial sex workers (CSW) and vulnerable and desperate young girls and women coming from marginalized backgrounds in order to find easy ways to survive through prostitution. The researcher managed to conduct a quantitative research project where 146 long distance truck drivers who work from and through Windhoek, who have an understanding of English and/or Afrikaans and work for more than twenty four hours away from home were identified to participate in the research. They were given a questionnaire which sought to figure out the drivers’ socio-demographic information, their knowledge of and attitudes towards HIV and AIDS, and the drivers’ sexual practices and other factors which may be putting them at an increased risk of contracting HIV. Working in the long distance trucking industry is noted to have its own hazards like harassment by traffic police, thieves and border officials, xenophobic confrontations, loneliness and boredom make them seek companionship in CSW and other vulnerable and desperate young girls and women. They also have tight schedules and strict deadlines which give them no time to rest, no time to be with their families and no time to go to clinics or hospitals where they get comprehensive healthcare services and HIV intervention and prevention programmes like condom distribution and voluntary HIV counselling and testing. The findings noted that loneliness and boredom arising from being away from home for too long, and being unmarried make the drivers more likely to engage in risky sexual behaviour and that a number of the drivers reported as having low HIV risk perception. Those who are married seem to feel obliged to protect their families as compared to those who are not married and have no family responsibilities. Many of the drivers seem to know about HIV and its causation of AIDS. The researcher recommends that drivers get more time to rest and spend with their families through driving shorter distances and partnering with sister companies such that drivers in Namibia may not need to cross the borders and return with cargo brought to the borders by the sister company drivers from neighbouring countries. Also to have a concerted effort by all stakeholders in the trucking industry in coming up with more truck ports like the North Star Foundation’s Wellness Centre in Walvis Bay, Namibia in many strategic towns dotted along the most frequently used routes. These truck ports should have secure parking for the truck, decent and affordable lodges for drivers, with clinics, entertainment areas and shops to cater for all the needs of the drivers on the road. There is also need for companies to invest in satellite radios which can provide entertainment to drivers on the road and also as a medium to broadcast accurate information about HIV and AIDS by peer educators.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die verspreiding van MIV en seksueel oordraagbare siektes word in verskeie ondersoeke toegeskryf aan onder meer langafstand-vragmotorbestuurders. Dit word hoofsaaklik veroorsaak as gevolg van die aard van hul werk en persone waarmee hulle in aanraking kom wat hoofsaaklik kommersieele sekswerkers, kwesbare en desperate meisies en vroue van minder gegoede agtergronde is wat op soek is na maniere van oorlewing deur prostitusie. Die navorser het ‘n kwantitatiewe navorsingsprojek uitgevoer met 146 langafstand-vragmotorbestuurders wat Engels en/of Afrikaans magtig is en werk vanaf en deur Windhoek. Die groep bestuurders wat meer as vier-en-twintig uur vanaf hul tuistes is, is geidentifiseer om deel te neem aan die navorsing. Inligting is bekom deur ‘n vraelys wat daarop gemik is om vas te stel wat die bestuurders se kennis en houding teenoor MIV/Vigs is, hulle sosio-demografie en die seksuele praktyke en ander faktore wat hulle mag blootstel en die hoër risko daaraan verbonde om die virus op te doen. Die langafstandbedryf word ook gekenmerk aan hul eie risiko’s soos teistering deur verkeerspolisie, inbrake en grenspersoneel, eensaamheid en verveling asook xenofobiese rusies wat veroorsaak dat geselskap van kommersiele sekswerkers en kwesbare meisies en vroue gesoek word. Hulle werk op streng tydskedules wat nie veel rustyd of tyd saam met familie toelaat nie. Daar word nie voorsiening gemaak vir besoeke aan klinieke en hospitale om volledige gesondheidsorg te verkry en deelname in die voorkoming van MIV programme (soos kondoomverspreiding en vrywillinge toetsing en berading) nie. Die navorsing het bevind dat eensaamheid en verveeldheid ontstaan as gevolg van afwesigheid vanaf tuistes vir lang periodes, en ongetroude bestuurders raak betrokke in riskante seksuele gedrag. ‘n Aantal drywers raporteer dat hulle min begrip van die risiko van MIV het. Bestuurders wat getroud is voel ‘n groter verpligting om hul families te beskerm in vergelyking met ander wat nie getroud is of geen familie verantwoordelikheid het nie. Baie van die bestuurders blyk kennis van MIV en die aanleiding to VIGS te hê. Die navorser beveel aan dat bestuurders se skedules hersien moet word om meer tyd met familie te spandeer deur korter afstande te ry en dat vennootskappe met suster-maatskappye gesluit word sodat bestuurders in Namibia nie nodig het om oor die grense te beweeg nie. ‘n Daadwerklike poging moet deur al die belanghebbende partye in die langafstand bedryf aangewend word om vragmotorhawens soortgelyk aan North Star Foundation’s Wellness Centre in Walvisbaai in strategiese dorpe op roetes wat die meeste gebruik word aangelê te word. Hierdie vragmotorhawens moet voorsiening maak vir veilige parkering vir vragmotors, bekostigbare en gerieflike akkomodasie vir drywers, klinieke en ontspaningsareas en winkels om in al die behoeftes van die drywers te voorsien. Daar is ook ‘n behoefte vir maatskappye om te belê in satellietradios wat vermaaklikheid aan drywers kan verskaf terwyl hulle bestuur, en ‘n medium wat akkurate inligting oor MIV en VIGS onder drywers te versprei.

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