Project Humsafar against HIV/AIDS reaches over 38,000 truckers

Last Updated: Mon, Dec 03, 2012 16:40 hrs

New Delhi, Dec 3 (IANS) The innovative Project Humsufar against HIV/AIDS been able to reach over 38,000 truckers to create mass awareness amongst them in high prevalence states like Rajasthan, Haryana, Pondicherry, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, its initiator says.

Launched by SABMiller India in 2008, the programme emphasizes on educating and creating awareness amongst the truckers on HIV/AIDS through various outreach activities in its breweries like one-on-one interactions and group discussions.

Under the programme, 26,603 truckes were reached through one-on-one and group discussions,2,546 were referred to civil hospitals and nearby Integrated Counseling and Testing Centres, 5,359 were reached through mass media tools such as street plays and films and 80,816 condoms were distributed through social marketing.

According to Ajit Jha, Director, Corporate Affairs and Communications, SABMiller India, "Increasing awareness about HIV/AIDS is a key sustainable development priority for SABMiller India. HIV/AIDS is one of the most important development challenges facing us today and SABMiller India has been actively working towards fighting HIV/AIDS through various initiatives."

As part of the project, interventions are carried out at the breweries and at other locations where truck drivers halt frequently for sufficient duration, for instance food joints along the highway. Since literacy rates amongst truckers are low, mass media tools such as movies, videos and games are widely used to effectively take the message to truckers.

"The programme also has a very strong referral component where the target populations are encouraged to avail of the free counselling and testing services made available by the government and local NGOs at the nearby ICTC (Integrated Counseling and Testing Centre)," a company statement said.

The interventions are conducted by local partner NGOs (Humana in Rajasthan and Haryana; SONIC in Pondicherry; Bhoruka Charitable Trust in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh) and state AIDS controlsocieties are supported by SABMiller India HIV/AIDs master trainers.

"To ensure optimum and effective outreach of the messages, peer creation from within the target groups is given special emphasis. In the truckers programme, special emphasis is laid on promoting correct usage of condoms with an ensured on-site availability through condom vending machines. SABMiller India has been recognized by the ILO as a corporate partner that has made valuable contributions to the National AIDS Control Programme," the statement said.

According to Divya Verma, National Programme Coordinator, HIV /AIDS Programme, ILO: "SABMiller India's truckers programme 'Humsafar' has been able to emphasize on educating and creating awareness amongst the truckers on HIV/AIDS through various outreach activities. The programme addresses the issue of stigma and discrimination and has been able to contribute valuably towards the fight against HIV/AIDS."

Humsafar was first launched at one of SABMiller India's biggest breweries - Rochees Breweries (RBL) in Rajasthan - in partnership with Humana People To People, a Rajasthan-based NGO and Rajasthan State Aids Control Society. It was later extended to other locations - SICA Breweries in Pondicherry; Mysore Breweries in Karnataka; Charminar Breweries in Andhra Pradesh and more recently to Haryana Breweries in Sonipat.

"HIV/AIDS is one of the key sustainable development priorities of SABMiller India & it takes an active interest in promoting and creating awareness around such social issues. To mark the World AIDS Day, SABMiller India organized various events and programmes across all its breweries for its employees and truckers. Some of the activities included quizzes, one to one sessions, slogan competitions, street plays, screening of movies, wall writing activity et al," the statement said.

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