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    070749

    Motor-park people shift gear.

    Nnoli C

    WORLDAIDS. 1992 Jan; (19):10.

    White, U.S. homosexual males were primarily affected in the early stages of the AIDS pandemic. Some Western researchers argued, however, that the syndrome originated in Africa. Strong political and social response to this notion resulted in only an anemic response to the growing AIDS epidemic in Nigeria. Nonetheless, the Stop AIDS Organization finally launched the Motor Park AIDS Education Program (MPAEP) in 1988, for health and education outreach to populations at risk of STDs and HIV infection. Specifically targeted are long-distance truck drivers, their young male assistants known as motor boys, and the barmaids, prostitutes, and homeless juveniles who frequent motor parks where these drivers rest while on the road. Many of these long-haul drivers have unprotected casual and commercial sex, both homosexual and heterosexual, take drugs, and suffer high rates of STDs. Marginalized, 75% illiterate, and speaking a variety of languages, these populations tend to be largely ignorant of the incurable nature of AIDS. Over 45% of motor park populations are estimated to be infected with an STD, or to have a future re-infection. These drivers are optimal vectors for the spread of HIV both internationally and within Nigeria. MPAEP workers work 6 days/week in the larger interstate motor parks to reach out to their predominantly male customers. They meet a host of primary health needs, and refer STD clients for testing and treatment. Drug use and homosexuality are 2 topics of discussion especially taboo in African society which have nonetheless been vigorously researched by MPAEP. Many drivers are unacknowledged bisexuals who have sex with their motor boys. Workers therefore explain the need to use condoms in same-sex activity without specifically mentioning homosexuality. Many Nigerians deny the existence of HIV and AIDS, are reluctant to speak about sex, and consider MPAEP workers to be intruders. Despite opposition in Muslim- dominated Northern Nigeria, however, program efforts continue.
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