Global Partnership on HIV and Mobile Workers in Maritime Sector Launched
A group of international associations and organizations are aiming
to lessen the vulnerability to HIV among more than one million
seafarers around the world by joining together in a global
The Global Partnership on HIV and Mobile Workers in the Maritime
Sector which brings together IOM, the International Transport
Workers Federation (ITF), the International Committee on Seafarers'
Welfare (ICSW), the International Labour Organization (ILO), the
International Maritime Health Association (IMHA), the International
Shipping Federation (ISF) and UNAIDS will be launched at the 10th
International Symposium on Maritime Health that opens on 23
September in Goa, India.
The partners will work to change HIV risk behaviour among
seafarers, increase their access to health and HIV programmes and
services during voyages, ensure that seafarers' rights are ensured
especially with regard to voluntary HIV testing and counselling and
to develop and implement sound workplace polices and programmes
addressing the issue.
Members of the partnership hope that by working together, their
global reach and experience will have a sustainable impact,
particularly in changing high risk sexual behaviour of seafarers
and the communities they interact with. Evidence from various
national and regional level studies shows that seafarers as an
occupational group have high rates of HIV infection compared to the
population in their community of origin.
Research also suggests that seafarers have lower levels of
knowledge about HIV transmission and risk factors than the general
population. At the same time, seafarers appear less likely than
other occupational groups to voluntarily receive HIV testing, and
more likely to engage in high risk behaviours. In one survey, 53%
of participants reported contacts with commercial sex workers and
73% reported that they never used condoms.
Whilst the particular working conditions of seafarers
–almost exclusively men of sexually active age who are away
from their spouses or partners for extended periods of time, who
frequent port areas where there are often large numbers of
commercial sex workers and who face isolation and hardship in
strange surroundings – encourage high risk behaviour, these
working conditions also make it harder for seafarers to access
information about HIV. Seafarers are a highly mobile population,
who attend shore-based medical and information services
infrequently, and who are often prevented from receiving HIV
messages through lack of time, ability to understand the
‘local' language or because of stigma and discrimination.
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