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Tuesday 12th
posted by Morning Star in World

by James Tweedie

WORLDWIDE transport unions urged action over HIV-Aids among sailors yesterday, after a survey revealed that myths about the disease still prevailed.

A survey of 34 trade unions and 608 seafarers entitled A Broader Vision of Seafarer Wellbeing was released yesterday by the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF).

It showed a remarkable lack of awareness about HIV-Aids, despite attempts to educate workers on the issue.

Only 17 per cent of maritime workers from one country believed that the use of condoms prevented the transmission of the virus, while 46 per cent thought it could be spread through food and drink.

“We believe this is the most exhaustive current investigation into this subject and we offer its findings to everyone concerned with the welfare of seafarers,” said ITF maritime co-ordinator Jacqueline Smith.

Other major findings came to light regarding sailors’ general wellbeing, especially regarding weight, depression and alcoholism.

Half of workers surveyed were worried about their weight, while almost 60 per cent had suffered from back or joint pain. In one country, some 75 per cent knew a workmate who was depressed.

Ms Smith said that the ITF had carried out the research to identify the needs and concerns of seafarers and to show how they could best be addressed within the federations’s longstanding and pioneering HIV-Aids programme.

“The results speak for themselves,” she added. “We will — with the agreement of the ITF seafarers’ section which sponsored this survey — plan a comprehensive programme of action accordingly.”