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June 2011 Vol 11-1 - Pic of the Month: Lover-boy, beware PDF Print E-mail
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Monday, 23 May 2011 18:57
Article Index
June 2011 Vol 11-1
Motorcycle Diaries: Hop & Malt (part one)
Tech Talk: Proud or Loud?
Globalizer: Wheels go for Wings in Brazil
Pic of the Month: Lover-boy, beware
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Pic of the Month: Lover-boy, beware

Why it is wise not to economize on rubber

 

Everyone knows riding a motorcycle can be unsafe. But sometimes and in some places it is unsafe in more ways than you would normally expect. Like most emerging countries, Uganda has thousands of motorcycle taxis. A 125-cm3 bike, like the one in this picture, can be a decent source of income, especially in bigger cities. But it also can be a source of risk to it’s driver’s health. HIV has been one of the country’s biggest problems. It already claimed about 1 million lives in Uganda, about 90,000 each year. Another 1 million people (out of the total 34-million population) are infected with the deadly disease. I got these stunning figures during an interview with Dr. Alex Coutinho, executive director of Kampala-based Infectious Disease Institute. The most obvious high-risk group is sex workers, with about 35% of them infected with HIV. The surprising thing for me was that motorcycle taxi drivers along with fishermen, have an even higher infection rate – 40%! Dr. Coutinho explained that the highest risk is typical for professions with relatively high income combined with high mobility. On-the-go lifestyle keeps motorcycle taxi drivers and fishermen away from their homes and spouses for long periods of time. Being away from home and having some money jingling in their pockets, these people are perfect clients for sex industry – and perfect victims for HIV. There’s an old joke saying that a real biker should be generous when it comes to rubber, be it tires or condoms. After my visit to Uganda last autumn, this joke doesn’t sound funny to me anymore.

 

A playfully decorated Bajaj bike in Ikanga District, Uganda

 



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