Encouraging the provision of better transport networks, links and access is something that professional and advocates work towards, hoping to improve the lives of people and communities. While access, by way of new roads and transport infrastructure and services, tends to be seen as overwhelmingly positive, it has negative impacts as well. One of these includes the role of better transport links in the increased spread of HIV/AIDS. Every day more than 6800 people become infected with HIV and over 5700 people die from AIDS, mostly because of inadequate access to HIV prevention and treatment services, according to the UNAIDS/WHO AIDS Epidemic Update (2007). Some of the highest incidences of HIV/AIDS infection are along transport corridors where there is a high turnover of truck drivers, migrant workers, commercial sex workers and local populations living in proximity of roads and transport construction sites. Infection rates are particularly high at border crossings where transport workers can be subject to lengthy delays and both health and workplace services are often especially weak.
In fact, the transport sector has become one of the main contributors to the spread of the disease. This is the case for two main reasons: First, new and better roads and better access to transport has increased mobility among and between regions and across borders leading to higher geographic spread and greater numbers of infected people. Second, transport workers are associated with a high degree of risky sexual behaviour. They may engage in unsafe or promiscuous sex while away from home and then return to their partners when they return home. This practice of having concurrent and multiple sexual partners is known as "sexual networking" and it has led to high rates of infection among transport workers and road-builders. This has been a particularly severe problem in Sub-Saharan Africa but is also growing in India, Asia and other parts of the world.
To read more on HIV/AIDS click here
- Asian Development Bank HIV/AIDS site
- World Bank - Mitigating the Spread of HIV/AIDS in the Transport Sector - includes links on the WB country programs
- The Road to Good Health: Resources for Combating HIV/AIDS on Transport Projects