Long distance truck drivers among major contributors to the spread of HIV/AIDS

Date: January 1, 1970
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The article is about a three-month long survey on the role of truck drivers in spreading HIV/AIDS in Mozambique, South Africa, Malawi and Botswana.

This article may be used in training to demonstrate the deficiencies of relying on secondary sources. 

Trainers notes: 
The article refers to the large number of truckers interviewed, yet there is no quote from any of those interviewed for the survey, or from any truckers in general. This is a typical case of the story of HIV/AIDS being told by statistics, surveys and officials, rather than by those most directly affected, in this case a “vulnerable group.” 

From a gender perspective, the story mentions sex workers, and the higher rate of condom use among truckers who employ their services than among those engaging in casual sex. However, there are no interviews either with sex workers or with women who engage in casual sex with the truck drivers. The article is thus also an example of gender blind reporting. The only person quoted, the then South African minister of transport, is a man. 

Use of language also exposes gender biases; for example the use of the term “prostitute” and the fact that the truck drivers are said to “use” them rather than employ them. 

Training Exercises:  Interviews with the truck drivers can be conducted where possible.  Interviews with the women can also be conducted. Appropriate authorities can be challenged about what steps are being taken to inform both truckers and the women.

Question about what steps are being taken to address the situation can be asked. Information on other trucking routes could be sourced in order to do a comparison. 

Links to other training resources:  Gender Links and the AIDS Law Project: Gender and HIV/AIDS: A Training Manual for Southern African Media and Communicators p108, Mobile Groups; and handout 37, “Raped at Gun Point in South Africa."

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