Success on the Road: Reversing the Spread of HIV/AIDS in West Africa
Long-range ground transport is a major contributor to the spread of HIV in Africa. For those who live, work, and travel along Africa’s main east-west transport route—the Abidjan-Lagos Corridor, stretching from Côte d’Ivoire to Nigeria— HIV/AIDS is an important everyday consideration.
Drivers and their assistants overnight along their way and may spend days at border crossings waiting to clear customs and other border formalities. These stops and delays provide multiple opportunities for sexual encounters that can transmit HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. This puts truck drivers, other mobile workers, sex workers, and those who live along the route at increased risk for HIV. About 30 million people live along the corridor, and 14 million people travel along the corridor each year. The route is essential to the region’s socioeconomic development.
The $17 million World Bank supported Abidjan–Lagos Transport Corridor Joint Regional HIV/AIDS Project (2003-2007) brought together five countries, working with different stakeholders in various locations to benefit truck drivers, sex workers, travelers, border communities, and military and customs officials. Along West Africa’s main highway, the Corridor Project reduced HIV risk among some of the region’s most vulnerable populations and provides a good model for beginning to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS in Africa and maximizing opportunities for and the benefits of care and treatment of those living with HIV. This was one of the first projects in Africa to develop a regional approach in the fight against HIV/AIDS and remains one of only a few that actually ensures services across borders.
This report highlights project results and explores key factors leading to the Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Project’s remarkable achievements.