IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Condoms for Cameroon's lonely truckers

Some 28,000 long-distance truck drivers in Cameroon will receive free condoms during the next five years in a bid to curb high AIDS rates in the West African country, a minister said on Wednesday.
/ Source: Reuters

Some 28,000 long-distance truck drivers in Cameroon will receive free condoms during the next five years in a bid to curb high AIDS rates in the West African country, a minister said on Wednesday.

Public Health Minister Urbain Olanguena Awono said the Canadian-funded project aimed to reduce drastically the HIV/AIDS infection rate among truck drivers from 15 percent, compared with six percent for Cameroon as a whole.

“These are people who, by virtue of their profession, are very mobile and spend most of their time away from home ... and tend to have multiple sex partners, and are therefore very vulnerable to contracting HIV/AIDS,” he told Reuters.

The scheme will concentrate on international trucking routes where infection rates are highest — reaching 35 percent on the dusty northern highway to landlocked Chad, the minister said.

Eighteen stop points were selected in frontier towns and major highways to offer medical consultations and distribute the free condoms.

There will also be an education campaign on HIV/AIDS, free testing for infected persons and distribution of drugs for selected drivers and persons along the highways.

The project will also target around 72,000 people who interact with drivers on a daily basis, particularly hotel attendants, bar and restaurant workers, and prostitutes.

There will be particular emphasis on women because the survey showed that HIV infection was 60 percent higher among women than men in both urban and rural Cameroon.

The project, carried out by CARE International Cameroon and the Cameroon Social Marketing Program (ACMS), was welcomed by truck drivers.

“Very often we are lonely and we get to some places where we don’t have a place to sleep and so we look for a partner just to pass the night,” said 38-year old Charles Wemley who transports goods from Cameroon’s port of Douala to N’Djamena in Chad.

“Because of the loneliness some of us drink a lot and just do anything.”