Health & Lifestyle

Among OFWs, seamen are reported ‘most HIV/AIDS infected’. Here’s Why

These International Teletransport Federation’s (ITF) general statements which had been published online perhaps could help the public understand why HIV/AIDS infection is prevalent among seafarers.

1. Seafarers are away from home for long periods of time while at sea. Their human contact is limited to their workmates. Then, when they dock at port, many want to make up for the loss of contacts during the time on board.

2. Seafarers are particularly hard to reach with HIV/AIDS Prevention activities, as they are away from their home countries for such a long time.

3. Seafarers also suffer when shipping companies try to cut costs by flying ‘flags of convenience’ from countries which have lower standards for registering ships. This undermines safety standards, as well as efforts to provide good workplace HIV/AIDS policies.

4. Women seafarers (on the other hand) are particularly vulnerable, and special care needs to be taken to consider their needs when developing interventions. Women seafarers regularly report sexual harassment and rape.

5. Lastly, on long journeys, relationships between male and female colleagues develop naturally. It is often in these situations that condom use declines even though the partners may not know their HIV status.

ITF strongly adverted that HIV/AIDs is now widely accepted as a treat to social and economic development, to national security as well as to fabric of the societies.

Meanwhile, Ernesto R. Gregorio Jr. conducted a study entitled ‘Seafarers’ Lived Experiences Aboard International Shipping Vessels: A Basis for Health Promotion Intervention’. During the conduct of the said study, he interviewed seafarers whom responded:

“Whenever the ship docks, the women (female sex workers) run after us, the women in Brazil look like our local actresses here (in the Philippines).”


“Even in local ports like in the Philippines like in Pangasinan, Cebu, Batangas Cities, there were women who entered the ship and offered commercial sex. The same was true in Singapore and Thailand. In Thailand, women were already queued up as the ship arrives.”

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