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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Questions on HIV added to driver's licence examination

Questions on HIV added to driver's licence examination

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090327_04.jpg

As Cambodia's roads improve, efforts are being made to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS, particularly among truck drivers.

Photo by: Tracey Shelton

Cambodian Sport Compact Club, who's motto is "Drive Safely, Sex Safely", are ahead of an ADB effort to add HIV into driving tests. 

THE government later this year is to add questions about HIV/AIDS into the written driver's licence test, in a project backed by the Asian Development Bank. The goal is to increase AIDS awareness among professional drivers, particularly truck drivers.

The test will contain a dozen questions about the virus. Around 2,000 people apply to the Ministry of Public Works and Transport for driving licences each month, said Keo Savin at the Land Transport Department, adding that there are 1.14 million registered cars and motorbikes, and 405,000 registered drivers.

Ung Chun Hour, the Public Works Ministry's director general of transport, said Wednesday that his ministry, in collaboration with the National AIDS Authority at the Ministry of Health, is working to finalise the questions.

"This marks the first time questions about HIV/AIDS have been included in a driving test," he said. "It is important that drivers - particularly professional drivers - know about HIV/AIDS. Professional truck drivers live far from home and are more likely to use sex partners."

The current driver's licence test has questions on driving techniques and the rules of the road, and others on first aid to help accident victims.

AIDS Authority: ‘logical step'

Dr Teng Kunthy, the secretary general of the National Aids Authority, said the decision to include questions about the disease into the driving test was logical given that the country's roads were improving, and that meant more truckers would be using Cambodia's roads and those of neighbouring countries.

"We are worried that when they stop along their route, they often look for sex partners - that's why we want to educate them during their driving test, so they know to take care of themselves," he said.

Teng Kunthy said that the next stage would be to educate the people who live on the busiest trucking routes.

"We want them to protect them from getting infected with HIV because although we don't have brothels, most sex workers now work at nightclubs or other places that we worry will offer sex services on the route," he said.

The country's HIV prevalence has declined in recent years and was 0.7 percent in 2008, said Dr Teng Kunthy.

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