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ETHIOPIA: Mobile units help in HIV/AIDS prevention

Photo: IOM
NAIROBI, 17 April 2002 (PlusNews) - The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) has launched a programme to bring HIV/AIDS prevention, counselling and testing to migrant populations in Ethiopia.

These mobile units provide information on HIV/AIDS, distribute male and female condoms, offer voluntary counselling and testing, and provide treatment for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) to those most at risk, the IOM said. These include truck drivers, commercial sex workers, itinerant labourers, refugees and internally displaced people.

The units operate in the evenings to adapt to the truck drivers' working hours. So far, more than 2,000 flyers and leaflets have been distributed to drivers in trucking companies, petrol stations and stopover areas, the IOM added.

The programme, which has been launched in conjunction with an Ethiopian NGO, the Organisation for Social Services for AIDS (OSSA), provides free services on an anonymous and totally confidential basis. The IOM says it hopes this will further improve the acceptability and "social affordability" of HIV/AIDS prevention services in Ethiopia.

By the end of March, a pilot project based in Nazareth and Dessie had treated 513 people for STIs, 625 had received voluntary counselling and testing, and 973 had been given confidential counselling services in the mobile units.

"There is an overwhelming demand for services provided by the mobile units," said Meera Sethi, the IOM's chief of mission in Addis Ababa. "Not just by the mobile population, but by the population at large, including students, factory workers and housewives."

The pilot project has been funded with US $65,000 from UNAIDS and US $40,000 from the World Health Organisation, the IOM added.

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