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‘Intercourse for a fare’ bike taxis threaten Uganda’s combat in opposition to Aids | World improvement

Uganda’s motorcycle taxi drivers are at risk of derailing the country’s fight against HIV because of risky sexual behaviors, including sex with customers in lieu of payments, according to a new study.

At least 12% of a sample of 281 business riders, a common informal job known as Boda Boda and dominated by young men, admitted having transactional sex with customers who did not pay their fare; 65.7% said they had had sex with more than one partner in the past 12 months; 23% had multiple partners over the same period, 57.1% said they had not used a condom at all in the six months prior to the Makerere University College of Education and External Studies (CEES) survey.

“Dealing with multiple sexual partners is a high risk sexual behavior, especially if no condom is used. It leads to sexually transmitted diseases like HIV and unwanted pregnancies, ”said Lillian Mbabazi, researcher at CEES, who presented the research results at a workshop in the capital Kampala last week. “It shows the need to educate young Ugandans to understand unsafe and irresponsible sexual behavior.”

The study was carried out in the Wakiso and Namayingo districts.

“The revelation from this study that customers who cannot afford to pay for their service freely offer sex and that a high proportion actually engage in risky sexual behavior with multiple partners without a condom is worrying,” says Daniel Byabakama, Head of HIV prevention at the Uganda AIDS Commission (UAC) said.

“HIV infections will definitely increase. The Boda Bodas need to know that HIV is still real and people are still getting infected with the virus, ”he said. Uganda has an HIV prevalence rate of 5.6%.

“This study is a wake-up call that we may be in shock if we continue to reduce the focus on these Boda-Bodas as a high priority,” said Byabakama.

“We should keep giving them priority, helping them, and providing HIV prevention services like free condoms so they don’t get the virus or transmit it.”

Some of the Boda Boda drivers in Wakiso told the Guardian that transactional sex and multiple sexual partners were occupational risks.

“What do you expect from me with a customer who cannot afford the fee and instead offers you sex,” said Patrick *, a Boda-Boda driver in Kyaliwajjala. “I can’t just let them go. Of course I’ll have sex in exchange with her. “

“Some of these customers are just stubborn and lure us. The ladies deliberately refuse to pay and offer you a sex deal. If you’re interested, you fall down and go for it, ”said Joseph *. “Of course, most of the time you may not have a condom. In the end you have life [unprotected] Sex.”

Byabakama said it was a worrying picture: “We are seeing a resurgence of bad sexual behavior in this group, they have sex with multiple sexual partners, they do not have an initial HIV test and many of them do not use condoms. That is worrying.

“They don’t care about preventing HIV because they think ARVs exist [antiretrovirals]. It is a misunderstanding. We continue to encourage them to practice HIV prevention measures as we have always taught them. We need to revitalize and revitalize the campaign. “

Many patients use Boda Bodas to get to the Maskaka Regional Referral Hospital. Photo: Mile 91 / Ben Langdon / Alamy

Paul Birevu Muyinda, deputy principal at CEES, said the “nomadic” industry is booming, employing more than 50% of 18 to 35 year olds in the east African country, but drivers face myriad health risks.

“The solution is to organize and order the industry. Make it a safe and profitable industry and provide ongoing professional training aimed at positive behavior change, ”said Muyinda.

“These project results will help the government develop scientifically proven, evidence-based interventions aimed at influencing behavioral change among Boda Boda drivers in Uganda,” said James Katunguka, traffic safety officer at the Department of Transportation.

* Name changed