AIDS care 2017 01 20() 1-4 doi 10.1080/09540121.2017.1280127
Truck drivers and their assistants have been identified as groups at higher risk for HIV infection. We sought to identify and describe the social and structural factors that may contribute to HIV risk among truck drivers who visit rest stops in Iringa, Tanzania, a region characterized by high levels of migration and mobility. This analysis was part of a comprehensive strategic assessment to examine HIV risk factors in Iringa. This analysis focuses on 11 in-depth interviews with truck drivers and a transport owner. A semi-structured interview guide was developed to elicit open-ended responses and enable probing. Interviews were conducted in Swahili, transcribed, and translated into English. Data analysis followed thematic analysis procedures that included initial reading of transcripts, development of a codebook and identification of themes through in-depth reading of transcripts. Drivers described structural risk factors for HIV including work conditions, the power imbalance between male drivers and their sexual partners and minimal perceived HIV risk with certain partners (e.g., regular partners and women selling sex). Multiple and inter-related social norms associated with truck stop environments influenced HIV risk, including peer influence and expectations, presence of sex workers, ability to purchase sex throughout their travel and alcohol consumption. These distinct social norms in truck stops and other rest points facilitated behavior that many participants said they would not engage in elsewhere. HIV prevention strategies with truck drivers should address individual, social and structural barriers to HIV prevention through partnerships with the health and transportation sectors, local government and local communities. HIV prevention services should be adapted to drivers’ times and places of availability, for example, condom provision where/when drivers make decisions about or have sex. A focus on positive messaging and addressing specific challenges including the continual challenge of re-choosing and reinforcing decisions to engage in safer sexual behaviors is important.