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 Table of Contents  
Year : 2012  |  Volume : 56  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 53-56  

Sexual behavior among truck drivers

1 Department of Community Medicine, Chennai Medical College Hospital and Research Centre, Tiruchirappalli, India
2 Department of Community Medicine, Rohilkhand Medical College and Hospital, Bareilly, India

Date of Web Publication6-Jun-2012

Correspondence Address:
Rajiv Kumar Singh
Department of Community Medicine, Chennai Medical College Hospital & Research Centre, Irungalur, Tiruchirappalli, Tamil-Nadu
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0019-557X.96976

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A cross-sectional study was conducted on Lucknow highway in Bareilly district of Uttar Pradesh to study the knowledge of truck drivers about HIV transmission and prevention and to study the sexual behaviour of these drivers with reference to HIV/AIDS. Age, marital status, education, income, drinking alcohol, length of stay away from home, knowledge about transmission and prevention of HIV, and HIV-prone behavior of truck drivers were studied. Chi-square, mean, and SD were calculated. In all, 289 (97.6%) drivers had heard about HIV/AIDS. Only 242 (81.8%) were aware of HIV transmission by heterosexual route. Misconceptions such as HIV transmission by mosquito bites, living in same room, shaking hands, and sharing food were found. Out of 174 (58.8%) who visited Commercial Sex Workers (CSW), 146 (83.9%) used a condom. 38 (12.8%) visited more than 5 CSW in the last 3 months. Time away from home on the road, marital status, alcohol use, and income class were associated with visiting CSW. High-risk behavior was established in the study population. Safe sex and use of condoms need to be promoted among the truck drivers and better condom availability needs to be assured on highways.

Keywords: HIV/AIDS, Knowledge, Sexual behaviour, Truck drivers

How to cite this article:
Singh RK, Joshi HS. Sexual behavior among truck drivers. Indian J Public Health 2012;56:53-6

How to cite this URL:
Singh RK, Joshi HS. Sexual behavior among truck drivers. Indian J Public Health [serial online] 2012 [cited 2022 Aug 11];56:53-6. Available from:

Evidence in India and elsewhere shows that the community of truckers is vulnerable to HIV due to a higher prevalence of risky sexual behavior, which results from a variety of social and economic factors as well as their work patterns. [1] National AIDS Control Program III (2007-2012) has given high priority to the truck drivers for the exposure to HIV infection. [2] In India, HIV/AIDS has entered into third decade, not as a single epidemic but made up of a number of distinct epidemics. The epidemic shifts from the highest risk groups [Commercial Sex Workers (CSW), men having sex with men, and intravenous drug users] to bridge population like clients of sex workers, truck drivers, and migrant population and then to general population. [3] Truck drivers constitute a well-known bridge population for the infection and transmission of HIV/AIDS. Due to migratory nature of work for truck drivers, making them stay away from their families leads to their visiting CSW. Some studies have documented their knowledge and behavior. [4] There has been a gradual increase in knowledge of truck drivers about HIV/AIDS.

This study takes various variables, such as age, education, marital status, drinking alcohol, income, and length of stay outside home, and tries to examine the association with HIV-prone behavior among truck drivers.

This study was conducted on Lucknow Highway Dhabas (small roadside restaurants) near Faridpur town, Bareilly District, Uttar Pradesh state. A simple random sampling for the dhabas was done, and four of total nine dhabas were selected for this study. The prevalence of high-risk sexual behavior among truck drivers was around 58% as per previous studies. [4] Using this, the formula of 4pq/d [2] was applied to get a sample size of 289 for this study. Data were collected on Sundays from 11 AM to 3 PM (lunch time) from March to July 2010. All the interviewers were trained for administering the questionnaire by conducting supervised trial interviews. This study was presented before and was approved by the Institutional Ethical Committee of Rohilkhand Medical College and Hospital.

All the truck drivers who stopped at the dhabas were approached for participation in the interview, and those who consented were taken aside in a separate enclosure to maintain their privacy and confidentiality. On the first day the questionnaire was tested, and some modifications were made in it based on the experience of the interviews. Interviewers were careful not to include the same driver twice by first finding out if they had been interviewed before. After the completion of interview, the truck drivers were educated about various modes of acquiring and preventing HIV infection using condoms and given free condoms if they asked for it. Totally 296 drivers were included in the final analysis.

For the purpose of this study, lifetime exposure to CSW and alcohol was taken as "Yes," even if the exposure occurred long time ago. Changed behavior has not been taken into account as it was difficult to document and define. Many drivers admitted to their behavior being changed with age, marriage, change of routes, etc., but documenting this kind of change was out of the scope of this study.

Sociodemographic profile: The mean age of truck drivers was 32.52 years (range 17-62 years). 62 (20.9%) were less than 25 years of age; 140 (47.3%) were between 25 and 35 years; 79 (26.7%) were between 36 and 45 years; and 15 (5.1%) were more than 45 years of age. Their mean income was 7946.62. One hundred three (34.8%) had income less than or equal to 5,000, and 84.8% had income less than or equal to 10,000. For the purpose of analysis, we divided the drivers into three income groups: lower (103, 34.8%) earning less than 5,000; middle (148, 50%) earning 5,000-10,000; and upper (45, 15.2%) earning more than 10,000 per month. One hundred twenty (40.5%) of the drivers were from the state of Uttar Pradesh, 69 (23.3%) from Haryana, 41 (13.9%) from Punjab, 18 (6.1%) from Uttarakhand, and rest were from other states. 231 (78%) drivers were married. 200 (67.6%) drank alcohol. 103 (34.8%) had studied till fifth class or less, 161 (54.4%) drivers had studied from sixth to tenth class and 32 (10.8%) had studied more than tenth class.

Truck drivers showed the pattern of distance journey they took that took them away from home on the road. This pattern was seen in most drivers, and length of time away from home is not just for the current journey but for general pattern for a particular driver. In a month, only 6 (2%) were away from home for less than 5 days, 20 (6.8%) were away for 6-10 days, 106 (35.8%) were away for 11-15 days, 85 (28.7%) were away for 16-20 days, and 79 (26.7%) were away for more than 20 days. For the purpose of analysis, we divided the drivers into two groups: those who stay away from home for 15 days or less (132, 44.6%) and those who had been away for more than 15 days (164, 55.4%).

Knowledge about HIV/AIDS: Two hundred eighty-nine (97.6%) drivers had heard about HIV/AIDS. Two hundred forty-two (81.8%) were aware of HIV transmission by heterosexual route if condom is not used. Only 198 (66.9%) were aware of HIV transmission by shared needles among drug users; 276 (93.2%), 255 (86.1%), and 272 (91.9%) were aware of transmission by contaminated blood transfusion, breast feeding, and homosexual (man on man sex), respectively.

Misconception about HIV transmission: 63 (21.3%), 32 (10.8%), 30 (10.1%), and 29 (9.8%) believed mosquito bites, living in the same room, shaking hands, and sharing food, respectively, will transmit HIV. Only 8 (2.7%) believed sharing tools with HIV/AIDS patient will spread HIV infection.

Knowledge about prevention of HIV/AIDS: 283 (95.6%) were aware that using condom can prevent HIV transmission. Only 193 (65.2%), 147 (49.7%), and 138 (46.6%) believed avoiding contact with high-risk group individuals (prostitutes, gays, intravenous needle users, etc.), being faithful to regular partner sexually and abstinence from sex, respectively, could prevent HIV/AIDS. Two hundred eighty-one (94.9%) believed use of disposable syringes can prevent HIV transmission.

HIV-prone behavior of truck drivers: Unmarried drivers, those who drank alcohol, those who stayed away from home for less than 15 days, and middle-income drivers were significantly more likely to visit CSW [Table 1]. Association of condom use and visit to CSW can be seen in [Table 2]. The difference was statistically significant (P < 0.001).
Table 1: Distribution of study population according to time away from home, marital status, alcohol use, income class, and visit to commercial sex workers

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Table 2: Commercial sex workers visit and condom use among the study population

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Those visiting CSW did not use condoms due to nonavailability (35.7%), uneasy feeling during intercourse (35.7%), did not feel it necessary (14.3%), etc. Out of those not visiting the CSW, the reasons for not using a condom were uneasy feeling during intercourse (38.2%), did not feel it necessary (21.1%), partner was sterilized (14.5%), not available (7.9%), using Copper T (2.6%), using coitus interruptus (1.3%), already pregnant (1.3%), and trying to have a baby (1.3%).

One hundred thirty-five (45.6%) were not exposed to CSW in the last 3 months and 38 (12.8%) visited more than five CSW in last 3 months. Eleven (3.7%) used injectable drugs, but none of these shared needles with anyone else.

Almost all the truck drivers were aware of HIV/AIDS. However, specific mode of transmission knowledge was low, especially transmission by sharing needles. Use of injectable drugs is not a public health problem in truck drivers in North India, especially as none of the users was found to share needles.

Unlike Chaturvedi et al., [4] the study found knowledge of transmission by breastfeeding and homosexual route was high among truck drivers. No association was found with educational status. The study observed the misconception about mosquito bite and sharing meals to be 21.3% and 9.8% when compared with 53% and 26.5% reported. This clearly showed that knowledge was getting better and misconceptions were decreasing with time or different knowledge and misconceptions in North India when compared with South Western India where previous study was conducted. Unlike them, this study found significant association between marital status and visit to CSW.

Like Chaturvedi et al., [4] the study also found significant association between alcohol drinking and visit to CSW. Two hundred (67.6%) drivers drank alcohol. High alcohol consumption (60%) has also been reported by Manjunath. [5]

Contrary to previous studies, this study had seen that drivers who had been on road for more than 15 days in a month were less likely to be exposed to CSW when compared with drivers who were on the road for less than 15 days in a month.

Contrary to some studies, the condom use in those visiting CSW in this study was 83.9%. Ahmed SI in 1992 reported 82% CSW exposure and none of them had used a condom. [6] Mishra in 1998 found 80% of truck drivers visited CSW, and of these 75% did not use a condom or used it very irregularly. [7] This clearly showed a pattern of decreasing CSW visit and more frequent use of condom by the truck drivers. But still 14.3% of truck drivers visiting a CSW did not feel condom use to be necessary; this could only change with better education.

Easy availability of condoms in rural areas has to be ensured. It is difficult to get condoms outside the city limits, which is the main reason for truck drivers visiting CSW not using a condom. More education for safe sex among the truck drivers is needed so that they understand the importance of using condoms when visiting CSWs.

Limitations of the study : Due to cross-sectional nature of the study, change in behavior among the truck driver over time, reasons for the same, effects of experience, changes like marriage, etc. could not be documented and analyzed. Even though long distance truck drivers are not dependent on their routine by the day of the week, some bias may have crept in due to study being conducted only on Sundays.

   References Top

1.National AIDS Control Organization, 2009, Targeted Interventions For Truckers Operational Guidelines, National AIDS Control Organization. Available from: [Last accessed on 2011 Oct 10].  Back to cited text no. 1
2.Park K. Health Programmes in India: National AIDS control program. In: Park K, editor. Park's Textbook of Preventive and Social Medicine. 20 th ed. Jabalpur, India: Banarasidas Bhanot Publishers; 2009. p. 370.  Back to cited text no. 2
3.Government of India. The national response to HIV/AIDS in India, National AIDS control project Phase 2, NACO, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, New Delhi, 1999.  Back to cited text no. 3
4.Chaturvedi S, Singh Z, Banerjee A, Khera A, Joshi RK, Dhrubajyoti D. Sexual behaviour among long distance truck drivers. Indian J Community Med 2006;31:153-6.  Back to cited text no. 4
  Medknow Journal  
5.Manjunath J, Thappa D, Jaishankar T. Sexually transmitted disease and sexual lifestyle of long-distance lorry drivers: A clinical-epidemiological study in South India. Int J STD AIDS 2002;13:612-7.  Back to cited text no. 5
6.Ahmed SI. Truck drivers as a vulnerable group in North East India. In: Agarwal OP, Sharma AK, Indrayan A, editors. HIV/AIDS Research in India, NACO, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Govt. of India; 1997. p. 497.  Back to cited text no. 6
7.Mishra R. STD and HIV/AIDS: A KAP study among truck operators. Health Millions 1998;224:11-3.  Back to cited text no. 7


  [Table 1], [Table 2]

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