kavachAbout 5-6 million truckers (drivers and helpers) in India ply on long distance, or inter-city, routes. Several studies have shown that long distance truckers are more vulnerable, compared to short distance truckers, to sexually transmitted diseases in general, and HIV/AIDS in particular, due to their high risk behaviour during long absence from their native places/home. Truckers as a group have higher rates of HIV and STI (11 per cent and 23 per cent, respectively, according to one survey in south India) than the average male client. Their mobility contributes to the geographic spread of HIV in India. HIV prevention programmes focused on truckers have been in place for the last decade or so. However, the mobile nature of the population and the highly fragmented structure of the Indian transport industry make it impossible for any single, standalone intervention to establish a sustained relationship/dialogue with the population, no matter how creative the behaviour change messaging at a single location may be.

Kavach Project is being run with support from TCI Foundation, which has in turn got a grant from Avahan, the India AIDS Initiatives of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Over a period of five years TCIF seeks to reach 1.5 million truckers along with sex workers all over India. TCI Foundation has tied up with BGMS since February 2005 to implement the project Kavach across National Highways (2 to 9).

Goal

To arrest the spread of HIV among long distance truckers in India

Major Activities

Inter Personnel Communication: This involves Key Population-led IPC as a form of Behaviour Change Communication involving peers from the key population. Twenty-three truck drivers have selected and imparted training by TCI Foundation. Now they are acting as KP facilitators who are conducting two sessions each in a day. During each session minimum 12 target populations are involved. In these sessions, STI and general patients are found out and referred to doctors for treatment.

Street Play: A professional cultural ensemble stages street plays at the project sites on specified themes. It helps target population to gain significant knowledge of STI and HIV/AIDS. All street play themes are interconnected to trucking community. The plays include all halt points.

Exhibitions/Health Games: Exhibitions/health games are conducted in and around the extension clinics. The project has 2-3 types of health games provided by TCI Foundation, which are strongly meaningful for truckers. During the games project staffs try to involve at least 10-12 truckers to lay and win a prize through health education. All participants know about the Khushi Clinic services and their benefits.

Film Show: Film shows are arranged every week to provide an audience for exposure to Khshi Clinic and its activities. Through this activity the project is providing a better platform to gain health education knowledge by different type of Bollywood movies which are related to STI and HIV/AIDS.

Infotainment Programmes: The project team conducts one infotainment programme in a year. Fun and frolic programme for the trucker community with the purpose of highlighting their commitment and love for the family, responsibility towards their own health, safety on the highways and importance of their contribution to the nation's economy is the goal of infotainment programmes. The programme main objective is to rapidly spread the message of STI/HIV/AIDS and its prevention linked to the availability of services at 'Khushi Clinic'. The event is positioned towards responsiveness and belongingness with a zest of 'Truckers' Utsav'. To harness the cause of safety, the event provides a unique opportunity to promote and publicise the organisation's product that are assured to sponsorship of any specified activities or things. Typically 3,000 population (truckers) witness such events. Along with entertainment activities like health camps are organised during the day.

Counselling of STI and Other Patients: During the counselling session proper risk assessment of patients is conducted. This is followed by a risk reduction plan including safe sex, condom promotion, partner management and referral to ICTC for HIV testing.

Linkages with Private Health Service Providers: The project has liased with private health service providers who are providing medical treatment facilities to patients near to halt points area. They are referring patients to Kushi Clinic with our referral slips for proper treatment and counselling.

STI Diagnosis and Treatment through Static and Extension Clinic: Static clinic and clinic extensions are used for STI diagnosis and treatment and providing clinic services for other ailments for KPs and their associates with the help of MBBS doctors. The clinic is equipped for STI diagnosis and treatment. After the treatment patients are counselled and referred by counsellors to HIV testing at ICTC centres for their future security.

Condom Promotion: Condom promotion is done through condom retailers (outlets) and CVMs (condom vending machines). The outlets and CVMs are linked with PSI/HLFPPT/Rashitech Vending System Pvt. Ltd. for refilling. Project has built linkages with some reputed condom agencies and open outlets on small shops like kirana, pan shops, medical stores and petrol pumps. Right now 102 outlets and 21 CVMs are functioning where persons getting condom on subsidized rates. These outlets are refilling PSI (Population Services International), HLFPPT (Hindustan Latex Family Planning Promotion Trust) and CVM (Rashitech Vending Pvt. Ltd.). Nearly 14,000 pieces of condoms are sold in a month.

Community Mobilisation: The transporters/brokers at the project site are sensitised to provide space for programmes, encourage truckers to seek health services and support in all project activities. Also, they are actively involved in mega events like infotainment programme, health camps and any difficult situation of the project.

Bird Eye View

Project Name: Kavach
Project Period
: Since February 2005
Focus Area: HIV/AIDS Prevention
Funding Agency: TCI Foundation
Working Area: Indore City
Beneficiaries: Truckers