This study describes the experiences and results of a large-scale human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) prevention intervention for long-distance truck drivers operating on the national highways of India.
The intervention for long-distance truckers started in 2004 across 34 trans-shipment locations. However, due to poor coverage and utilization of services by truckers in the initial 18-month period, the intervention was redesigned to focus on only 17 trans-shipment locations. The redesigned intervention model was based on the McDonald’s business franchise model where the focus is on optimal placement of services, supported with branding and standardization of services offered, and a surround sound communication approach. Program output indicators were assessed using program monitoring data over 7 years (2004–2010) and two rounds of cross-sectional behavioral surveys conducted in January 2008 (n = 1402) and July 2009 (n = 1407).
The number of truckers contacted per month per site increased from 374 in 2004 to 4327 in 2010. Analysis of survey data showed a seven-fold increase in clinic visits in the past 12 months from 2008 to 2009 (21% versus 63%, P < 0.001). A significant increase was also observed in the percentage of truckers who watched street plays (10% to 56%, P < 0.001), and participated in health exhibitions (6% to 35%, P < 0.001). Furthermore, an increase from round 1 to round 2 was observed in the percentage who received condoms (13% to 22%, P < 0.001), and attended one-one counseling (15% to 21%, P < 0.01). Treatment-seeking from program clinics for symptoms related to sexually transmitted infections increased six-fold during this period (16% versus 50%, P < 0.001).
Adoption of a business model for HIV prevention helped to increase program coverage and service utilization among long-distance truckers. Implementing HIV prevention programs in a highly mobile population such as truckers, in a limited number of high-impact locations, supported by branding of services, could help in saturating coverage and optimum utilization of available resources.