Andhra Pradesh has one of the highest prevalence rates of HIV in India. One of the key reasons for this is the National Highway which runs through the state along which are hundreds of roadside brothels, dhaba. Truck drivers are on the road for months at a time and visit the brothels as a matter of course. There is a high percentage rate of infection among the sex workers who are often paid extra not to use condoms.
Inevitably, the truck drivers become infected and in due course return to their villages, peppered off the national highway and infect their wives. Over time the drivers develop Aids and many have died before being diagnosed or too late for ARV drugs to be effective. Their widows and their children are left destitute and are often forced out of their husband’s village. They are forced to live in secrecy with the infection out of fear – the stigma is a real danger for them – as a result statistics are hard to gather.