Rajesh B. Nair

It was revealed in the Behaviour Surveillance Survey, 2006

PUDUCHERRY: The Behaviour Surveillance Survey (BSS), 2006 has shown mixed results in the use of condom and misconception about Human Immune deficiency Virus (HIV) among high-risk persons, particularly commercial sex workers and truck drivers in the Union Territory.

The survey conducted among 1,900 people belonging to six high-risk categories shows that condom use among commercial sex workers with clients had increased from 76 per cent in 2001 to 88 per cent in 2006. On the other hand, condom use had decreased from 94.1 per cent in 2001 to 73.5 per cent in 2006 with regular clients and 21.7 per cent to 17.5 per cent with regular partners during the period, according to the annual survey, conducted by the AIDS Prevention And Control (APAC) Project to ascertain the effectiveness of various interventional programmes.

The voluntary procurement of condoms had increased from 84 per cent to 92.5 per cent in 2006 and also the risk-perception among non-condom users increased to 60 per cent in 2006 from 8.3 per cent in 2001. However, the incidence of sexually transmitted infections (STI) have gone up to 10 per cent in 2006, compared to zero per cent reported five years ago, the survey revealed.

An overwhelming majority reported seeking medical treatment for the infection from qualified medical practioners.

Around 42 per cent of the commercial sex workers have taken HIV test and of these, 76.2 per cent received counselling. The misconception about the virus had reduced drastically among the sex workers, the survey pointed out.

The survey among truckers and their helpers revealed that their involvement with regular partners, which had been showing an upward trend in the last two studies, have come down to 26 per cent and the use of condom gone up to 84.6 per cent in 2006, compared to 69.3 per cent reported in 2001. The awareness about the use of preventive methods has increased among them, the survey revealed.

One of the positive signs that emerged out of the survey was the low incidence of STIs among truckers.

The incidence was as low as 2.8 per cent in 2006 compared to the previous percentage of 12.3. As many as 16.8 per cent of helpers have undergone HIV testing and have been provided counselling.

However, the survey pointed out that involvement in sex with casual partners had increased among commercial sex workers, truck drivers, men having sex with men, categories. Their preference to use condom has also decreased, the survey said.

The risk perception among all the high risk groups was very low with perception among commercial sex workers showing just 60 per cent. The risk perception among other groups was below 50 per cent, it said.