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2006.11.16
The highway connecting Djibouti and Ethiopia is one of Djibouti's most dangerous places for contracting HIV. Each day, hundreds of relatively well-off truck drivers park their rigs near poor communities as they wait for their shipments at the main port. During this down time, many drivers pay poor women from the nearby neighborhoods to have sex. Most of the women have little education, and know little about how to protect themselves against HIV. This is reflected in the fact that nearly twice as many young women, six-percent of the population, are infected with HIV than young men here. In response, UNICEF has set up an information center in an old shipping container alongside the highway. Huge HIV related posters attract the eye, while local NGO volunteers spread awareness raising and protection messages against Aids. Nowadays, anyone, including truckers, women and children, can learn the facts about HIV and how the virus is spread, how to protect themselves, as well as where to get tested. They also have access to free condoms. On average 300 condom per day are delivered by the project volunteer staff recruited by a national association Omar Habib, UNICEF Communication Officer: "They (truck drivers) are in contact with poor girls – a poor population – and there was no program there. And now we have a program there because on average, boys and girls in Djibouti start to have sex relations, sex experience, between 16 and 17. And in this very poor area, there are a lot of children between 10 and 18 years, so it's very risky. There are a lot of risks for them to be in contact with truck drivers. We have to address this problem." Another problem UNICEF is addressing is the high prevalence among Djibouti's young people. Forty-eight percent of people under 24, when asked, did not know that using a condom could reduce the risk of HIV infection. A lack of knowledge not that surprising when bearing in mind that, until 2 years ago, not even half of the school aged children where enrolled in schools, and the illiteracy rate still remains around 46%.17-year-old Said Abdo Said had intercourse for the first time last year and did not use a condom. Now, he thanks UNICEF for helping protect him. Said Abdo Said, 17-year-old: "It's a nice place because now we have condoms, and the man in charge explained how to use condoms and why it is important to use them to prevent HIV. For me, I come here twice a week for condoms." As night falls, the highway brings another wave of truckers seeking thrills. The HIV threat still lingers, but thanks to UNICEF, hundreds of young men and women will know how to protect themselves. *** Asset Name : The UNICEF sponsored information centre on the Djibouti - Ethiopia highway Asset Duration: 02 min 31 secs Shoot City: Djibouti Shoot Country: Djibouti Shoot Date: Sep 27 2005
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