New maps guide African truckers to AIDS clinics

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African trucking routes, long known as pathways for spreading HIV across borders, have been drawn in new maps that also direct drivers to clinics that treat AIDS, a spokeswoman said Wednesday.

About 20,000 maps have been printed and distribution began last week, Catherine Larkin, a spokeswoman for the project, told AFP.

English maps for East, West and Southern Africa, as well as a French map for west Africa, show the locations of over 160 clinics run by more than 40 governments and charities that provide free AIDS services.

"For the first time, truckers can see where they can access health services along major trucking corridors and transport hubs on the subcontinent," said Paul Matthew, Africa director for North Star Alliance, which sets up clinics on highways and at border posts.

The North Star Alliance Foundation initiated the project, while risk-mapping company Maplecroft published the maps and petroleum giant Royal Dutch Shell funded the costs.

North Star Alliance is a partnership originally between courier company TNT and the UN World Food Programme.

Maplecroft maps global risks in more than 100 categories, including health, climate, and human rights. Its research has highlighted the link between truck drivers and the spread of HIV in Africa.

"Our research showed categorically that the spread of HIV moved down transportation routes," said Maplecroft spokesman Jason McGeown.

Shell funded the project because truck drivers' health had a direct impact on their African business interest, George Wandera, a safety official for the company.

"Our ultimate goal is to get these maps into the hands of all truck drivers in Africa," said Matthew.

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