In March 2008, Sahara Aalhad launched a truckers project called ‘Taking the Wheel’, Pune’s first large scale HIV/AIDS awareness program for the truckers community. The team runs outreach workshops at multiple sights across the city and in surrounding areas. Over 4,000 truckers were reached in the first quarter alone. Pune’s HIV rate has reached epidemic proportions, and the trucker’s community is just one of the high risk groups in society that need education on preventative techniques. Most truckers spend long amounts of time on the road, away from home and their loved ones. Due to the transient nature of their work, truckers are prone to unsafe sex and drug use. This, combined with a lack the general knowledge about harm reduction, HIV and STIs makes them susceptible to HIV infection and transmission.
The sessions consist of street theatre, interactive skits and condom demonstration and distribution. Pre and post session surveys are conducted and free HIV tests are offered to post-survey participants along with voluntary pre and post-test counseling. A focus group discussion is held a day after the awareness session to clarify and answer any more questions truckers may have. Peer-education among the trucker community is a further goal of the program. Additional outreach work is ongoing at trucking sites. This project is funded by the Eaton Corporation.