Pretoria - The fight against HIV and Aids is expected to move into a new gear when Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi launches a Trucking Wellness Centre at Epping in Cape Town this evening.
Based along the busy truck route in Epping, the centre will provide health and wellness programmes including counselling, HIV testing and condom distribution to truck drivers using the route.
Dr Motsoaledi said the services will also be extended to women and young girls who may be at risk of getting sexually transmitted infections and all services will be provided after hours in a confidential setting to secure the dignity of the user.
He said the department is fully aware of the dangers that long distance truck drivers are exposed to as a result of being away from their spouses for longer periods and it becomes important to provide them with primary healthcare services including counselling as part of minimising their risks of getting STIs and HIV, which in turn put their spouses at risk.
"This centre puts us on a new course in the delivery of primary healthcare and prevention of HIV, I commend the South African Business Coalition on HIV and Aids and Mercedes-Benz SA for working with us in this regard," said the minister.
Late last year, Dr Motsoaledi visited India to learn about integrating high-risk groups such as long distance truck drivers among others into HIV and Aids prevention programmes.
"What we saw in India forced us to think much more broadly in our fight against HIV and Aids and rolling out of primary healthcare services."
Dr Motsoaledi has since made a commitment to launch such wellness centres in all major trucking routes throughout the country.