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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update

UN Launches Program to Spread AIDS Awareness Among Seamen


Associated Press (08.30.02) - Tuesday, September 03, 2002

Warning that sailors are highly vulnerable to HIV/AIDS, the UN on Friday launched a new educational program for maritime industry workers about the dangers of unprotected sex. UN officials, who met with maritime officials from six Southeast Asian countries and China, said sailors save a lot of money during their lengthy time away at sea, which they may spend on prostitutes on reaching a port. "All of these things together make seafarers a vulnerable group with respect to HIV and AIDS," said Barry Cable, director of the transport and tourism division of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific.

There are no exact HIV statistics available for the regional maritime industry, but the number of affected sailors is believed to be in the hundreds of thousands. Because of their mobile jobs, sailors are also seen as highly potent vectors of the disease. The UN's educational program teaches prevention and awareness through training institutes and the workplace. In addition, the UN will spread its message through CD-ROMs, which ship owners and training schools will be encouraged to show to trainee sailors. The program aims to work with ship owners to develop policies on HIV prevention and dealing with HIV-positive sailors.

Lee-Nah Hsu, a UN official who developed the educational program, said it is important to prevent discrimination by employers against sailors with HIV. If someone becomes weaker because of HIV, then a company should move that person to a physically less demanding job, said Hsu. However, Vivian K. Banico of NYK-Fil Maritime E-Training Inc., a Japanese- Filipino recruiter for shipping companies, said, "There is a silent policy now that the person must be fit to work. If a crew member contracts HIV, they may lose their job," Banico said.


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Information in this article was accurate in September 3, 2002. The state of the art may have changed since the publication date. This material is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between you and your doctor. Always discuss treatment options with a doctor who specializes in treating HIV.