India Intelligence Report

 

 

   NHAI Plan to Tackle Highway HIV

  Migrant population living along highways suffer higher rates of HIV infection because of poor family support, lack of healthcare, unsafe sex, easy access to brothels, and lack of awareness but a new plan is being created to specifically target this population.
 

 

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Migrant population living along highways suffer higher rates of HIV infection because of poor family support, lack of healthcare, unsafe sex, easy access to brothels, and lack of awareness but a new plan is being created to specifically target this population. The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) is leveraging its sphere of influence and access to these areas to planning to launch a massive program to address these issues.

The NHAI will address the high-risk group along the highways including truck drivers, tourists, illegal migrants, female sex workers, cleaners, brothel inmates, contractual workers under the National AIDS Control Policy-III and will cover 65,000 kilometers of Indian highways.

Several independent studies have identified mobile population as the major high-risk group for HIV infections and this initiative comes from a new policy shift of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that fighting AIDS must “move out of the Health Ministry” and needs a broad-based action plan. The Ministry of Railways has also devised its own plan to address the issue with its own health infrastructure, integrated counseling and testing centres at important railway junctions. The Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Youth and Sports are also working on their own programs.

The NHAI is planning to meet truckers associations and construction contractors to sensitize them of the issue and roping in their cooperation. Many companies such as Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd (HPCL) which has many gas stations along highways have also volunteered to participate. Their involvement could be to host condom vending machines and flier distribution.

While the initiative is well intentioned and much needed, what is really essential is a coordinated plan of awareness building, education, health care, and counseling. Besides, those working with the high-risk population need to be trained adequately so they are able to help those who need it without inadvertently infecting themselves or others