Innovative Ways to Target the Invisible: HIV/AIDS Education for Transport Workers

Article | 01 August 2008


The dissemination of HIV prevention campaigns is particularly challenging in the largely unorganized informal sector. Transport workers especially are more difficult to reach due to their high mobility. The vulnerability of these workers to HIV arises from their high mobility, availability of disposable income, free time on their hands and living away from their families. In this abstract, we describe an innovative approach to reaching this highly mobile worker community.


Resources were combined and mobilized through a partnership between the sectoral unions of trade union federations and an NGO (Himalayan Social Welfare Organization) in this campaign. The trade unions ensured access to their existing offices that were used to set-up information centers in different bus stops of the city. The unions and the NGO offered the free services of HIV educators who were placed in information centers and visited the surrounding garages to reach workers to promote safer sex behavior through a variety of communication channels. One particularly popular activity used a modified version of a local board game that included messages on HIV/AIDS, STI and condom use.

Lessons learned

Mobilization of trade unions and civil society has been vital to our programme and has resulted in a more sustainable programme. Organized workers are motivated and resourceful and their drive can be channeled towards the promotion of health messages in the unorganized setting of the informal economy. Bus stops are common “waiting” areas for the transport workers and give peer educators the opportunity build rapport to discuss issues related to HIV/AIDS.

Next steps

  • Continuous support of trade unions and NGOs to participate and scale up activities in the informal sector.
  • Sharing of costs of the Unions’ information center as a way to motivate them to continue activities.
  • Improve access to care and support for the informal sector, nationally.