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Billboard for Life Works Shamba, a ROADS Project demonstration site

“SafeTStops” offered travelers along East Africa's busy highways HIV-prevention services along with food and fuel. Photo: Wendy Stone.

Project in East Africa tackles infection hot spots along highways

Editor’s note: PATH uses creative techniques to reach targeted audiences with lifesaving messages. The Regional Outreach Addressing AIDS (ROADS) project caught the attention of truck drivers on East African highways and got them thinking about ways to avoid HIV/AIDS.

Roads are like arteries. They bring supplies that sustain life but also spread agents that cause disease.

In East Africa, PATH helped to prevent HIV transmission along transportation corridors with the Regional Outreach Addressing AIDS (ROADS) project. Through targeted communications campaigns and educational programs, we helped truckers and other highly mobile people make smart choices about sexual behavior to protect themselves and their families.

Providing safe stops

“SafeTStops” were a key feature of the project. These are sites where truck drivers and other travelers get health services along with food and fuel: counseling, testing, and treatment for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections as well as entertainment, faith-based services, and support systems for orphans and vulnerable children. The project also included a stoplight-themed billboard campaign and training for women and teens in peer education and other methods to promote behavior change.

Begun in Kenya, the project expanded to Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda. PATH’s work to promote behavior change was done under an agreement with Family Health International, the overall project lead, with funding from the US Agency for International Development.

Addressing both economic and health concerns

This novel project simultaneously addressed both economic development and public health concerns and involved local businesses as well as government officials. By focusing on high-risk groups in underserved locations, it helped to make HIV prevention, testing, and treatment available to all who need it.