Effectiveness of Awareness Programs Implemented to Educate Male Migrant Road Workers on Prevention of HIV/AIDS

Promoting HIV/AIDS prevention is important to reduce or eliminate the risk of getting infected. Comprehensive preventive programs give basic education and …

HIV/AIDS prevention programs have been taken into action globally, but it’s essential to implement successful educational programs to reach out to various ‘at risk’ groups, considering their socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds since there won’t be specific tailor-made universal prevention methods are available.

The male migrant road workers are more vulnerable to conduct risky sexual behaviors and to HIV/AIDS exposure due to the nature of their employment and being away from their homes and families for extended periods of time. According to Sri Lankan context, rural women are less exposed and reluctant to explore unsafe or risky sexual encounters but migrant construction workers in their own communities could change this aspect and these women could be susceptible to exposure of HIV/AIDS. It’s crucial that workers and surrounding communities understand the severity of the disease and the modes of getting infected and the transmission methods of the virus through educational workshops. Also due to HIV related stigma and discrimination, its difficult to trace the people who are living with HIV/AIDS and other STDs.

This exploratory educational intervention study was conducted among the sexually active male road construction workers to determine the impact and effectiveness of HIV/AIDS awareness programs and to assess the knowledge and attitude regarding HIV/AIDS. The study sample data collected only from male migrant road workers, as a result of they are the vehicle who can spread the virus mostly who recognized as ‘at risk’ population according to international findings. Structured educational prevention workshops were conducted with a sample of one hundred respondents. The all obtained data from the questionnaires were thoroughly analyzed and interpreted to evaluate and compare with the objective and hypothesis of the study. Well planned, appropriate educational tools and communication methods were utilized during the workshops to outreach the targeted audience. Comparison of the data form pre and post workshop questionnaires suggested that migrant road workers had a comparatively low knowledge in positive and sexual health behaviors and HIV/ AIDS prevention, before attending the educational workshops.

The results revealed that there was an overall knowledge and attitude increase in positive and safe sexual health behaviors among the participants after exposing to awareness and educational interventions. The study advocates the importance of HIV/AIDS prevention and education among ‘at risk’ migrant road workers in Sri Lanka through culturally and socioeconomically designed awareness programs. The educational workshops should be focused and designed to reach out the particular community and no tailor- made solutions would apply to every diverse community.

This study sample was limited to sexually active male workers (age15-49) since the majority of road construction workers were males. The results would be more accurate if female workers’ perspective in HIV/AIDS awareness was collected and analyzed therefore the study would be broadened for better results. The future studies in this context should include female construction workers and educating both males and females in HIV/AIDS awareness is crucial in prevalence of the disease.

Also the respondents in study sample completed their primary educational levels up to O/L standards. The collected data indicates the construction workers fall into different educational levels and their awareness in the disease could be varied and it’s important to use a wide-ranging sample in their educational levels in the future studies.

Such researches will be much more benefitted to minimize and reach to zero in future day as its not difficult because Sri Lanka remains in low prevalence category among other countries in the world, specially even with open economy which enhancing tourism, labor migration, and business opportunities for foreigners.

In the context of reducing HIV/AIDS prevalence among the targeted population, in addition to the educational awareness programs, some interventions should be implemented to the road construction workers; recreational activities to attend to reduce loneliness and boredom, more opportunities or grant leave  to visit their immediate families, easy access to medical facilities and  information about health services offered in the area, build a support system with health care personnel hence workers questions can be answered confidentially, easy access to condoms, disseminate educational materials in simple language  frequently. In addition, it’s important to include the immediate and extended family members of road contraction workers in HIV/AIDS awareness programs and also to encourage  the surrounding communities to participate as they have close encounters with the workers.

Most importantly, following up programs should be implemented to monitor the positive and safe sexual behaviors among the workers who have already attended the awareness workshops to enhance the low prevalence rate of HIV/AIDS among migrant road construction workers in Sri Lanka.

Though Sri Lanka holds comparatively a low prevalence rate in HIV/AIDS migrant road workers and surrounding communities are one group that identified as a ‘at risk’ group.  It’s important to educate these populations and provide successful interventions that will facilitate them to protect themselves from getting infected. At the same time, the people who are already living with HIV need knowledge, guidance and support to improve their health conditions through educational workshops and also to stop spreading the virus among their communities. It should be understood clearly though there are some treatments available to control the virus, there is no cure for this deadly disease and prevention is the key to a healthy life.

In the light of the findings and conclusion, this study suggests that implementation of culturally appropriate, resourceful HIV/AIDS educational and awareness programs are beneficial to road construction workers and their surrounding communities in Sri Lanka to reduce the HIV prevalence rate to zero in the future.