Survey conducted by Sion Hospital reveals that over half of taxi drivers are uneasy working with an HIV positive colleague; some felt seat belts are unnecessary

If the recent survey conducted by doctors from Sion Hospital's Preventive and Social Medicine (PSM) department is anything to go by, then almost 40 per cent of the total taxi drivers that were interviewed are unaware that HIV/AIDS is not transmitted by mosquito bite, use of common toilets, hugging and kissing.

Still a taboo: Of the 118 drivers who were surveyed at the domestic and
international airports most refused to work with an HIV-infected person.
Representation Pic

However, exposing the stigma attached to HIV, 56 per cent of the drivers expressed apprehensions about working with an HIV positive person.

The surveyed taxi drivers were within the age group of 20 to 75 years. They were interviewed on addiction to tobacco, knowledge about HIV/AIDS, road safety and tuberculosis. In all, 118 taxi drivers were interviewed at domestic and international airport during the Road Safety Week campaign undertaken by of the city's traffic department.

While 22 per cent of those interviewed lacked knowledge that HIV can be prevented by the use of condom, 63.6 per cent said that they wouldn't mind shaking hands with HIV-infected patients.

"People should be sensitised. The findings will help us to strengthen the present government schemes that are unidirectional. There is a dire need for participation of those who will be surveyed when it comes to formulating any kind of schemes and programmes," said Dr R M Chaturvedi, professor and head, PSM.

'Drink & drive is ok'
While 19.5 per cent of the taxi drivers thought that occasional drinking and driving was safe, nearly 20 per cent revealed that they had a history of drunk driving, irregular use of seat belts and taking on mobile phones while driving. Besides, 6.8 per cent thought that seat belts are not necessary.

"Though 81 per cent of the interviewed drivers said that drinking and driving is dangerous, however, there is a gap between the knowledge and practicing traffic rules. We even sensitised the drivers on the topics covered in the survey to upgrade their existing knowledge," added Chaturvedi.

Unlike HIV, taxi drivers seemed to be well-informed when it came to TB. While 54 per cent were aware that it the disease is transmitted via air while coughing and spitting, and 68.6 per cent knew that TB is a contagious disease.