EThekwini Municipality Mayor welcomes New HIV/AIDS study by IOM that highlights patterns of sexual networking in the Durban ports
His Worship, Mayor Cllr James Nxumalo has welcomed the newly launched HIV study by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) during an official launch recently in Umhlangu, Durban.
IOM released a pioneering health study aimed at contributing to the reduction of HIV/AIDS among migrants and mobile workers, their families and communities with which they interact in the selected ports of Southern Africa.
Launched on the 22nd of October, the report forms part of a comprehensive IOM-led regional research that comprises of four studies that were conducted in the main ports of Namibia, Mozambique, Tanzania, and South Africa.
The study was commissioned by IOM, through support of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) Special Fund for HIV and has revealed significant health vulnerabilities and complex sexual networks amongst populations within and around the port area.
Mayor Nxumalo cited that this study has given the government an indication of the HIV/AIDS risks and the kind of sexual activity that takes place in SADC ports. “The time has come for us to stand up and tackle this challenge head on. We must work together to come up with a strategy specifically targeting our Southern African Ports, with the aim of creating awareness around the prevalence of HIV/AIDS”, he said in his address.
The study was conducted in Durban’s Ethekwini Port and involved 320 respondents consisting of stevedores, truck drivers and seafarers. Truck drivers reported the highest number of sexual partners and the highest incidence of sexual intercourse with someone who is not their regular spouse or partner. A high incidence of sexually transmitted infections (STI) was reported amongst the truck drivers and stevedores.
The study also shows that informants in all three samples (seafarers, stevedores, and truck drivers) were generally knowledgeable of the risks to health of HIV and STI, and that individuals sought professional medical treatment when necessary. However, the data from the stevedore and truck driver samples suggested that those who had sexually transmitted infections did not fully appreciate the risks to themselves and others, as evidenced by the relatively few who reported to have ceased sexual activity after discovering having an STI.
The vast majority of stevedores (88%), truck drivers (90%) and seafarers (80%) had tested for HIV and knew the results of their tests. This indicates that efforts to get more people to know their HIV status are bearing fruits.
The study supports the existing evidence that sex workers are an evident ‘high risk’ key population. However, the respondents’ knowledge of the risks to health of HIV/AIDS is often overridden by the demands of their work and their personal circumstances.
The launch event brought together various stakeholders from the KZN Provincial Government, maritime companies, health and transport industry, development partners, research institutions, and other relevant parties in one gathering to recognise the release of this important study on the HIV/AIDS situation and response in the province.
Please visit http://southafrica.iom.int/publication_categories/migration-health/ to download a copy of the study.
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