HIV/AIDS education for maritime students

Ukrainian trade unions and ILO join forces to introduce HIV/AIDS prevention training for seafarers

The Maritime Transport Workers’ Trade Union of Ukraine (MTWTU) in collaboration with the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) has facilitated an HIV/AIDS prevention module in the Kherson State Maritime Academy (KSMA), being the first such module at Europe’s maritime academies.

News | 09 February 2018

Transport workers, including seafarers are particularly vulnerable to HIV and AIDS. Risk factors for transport workers in all sectors focus on their absences from home and the fact that a number have sexual partners when away from home. But the vulnerability of transport workers runs deeper than that: constant mobility, poor working conditions and frequent stigmatisation are combined with the general absence of health information and services at their places of work – be it a ship, highway or aviation company.

In September 2017, the KSMA hosted a working visit of the International Transport Workers’ Federation and Marine Tansport Workers’ Trade Union of Ukraine. During the discussion, the Academy Rector Vladimir Khodakovsky gave full support for the Union’s proposal to include a module on HIV/AIDS in the training programme.  Since January 1, 2018, students of navigation and ship power engineering have been studying HIV/AIDS prevention within their Occupational Health and Safety and Labour Protection course. In each term, future seafarers receive 20 hours of training and participate in HIV/AIDS prevention weeks.

As this is a groundbreaking initiative in the sector, the MTWTU asked the International Labour Organization (ILO) and GIZ German Development Agency to help with the implementation of  the programme. ILO and MTWTU provided a training for two of the Kherson Acedemy experts, while GIZ contributed to the development of training materials.

Mr. Oleg Grygoriuk, MTWTU First Vice Chair said: “As a trade union, what matters to us is both the working conditions and wages of seafarers and their welfare.  The adoption of preventive measures to maintain the health of young seafarers is essential and needs to be taught well. Kherson State Maritime Academy is the only educational institution in Ukraine which constantly introduces innovative teaching approaches, and that is precisely why we chose to collaborate with it.”

 ITF HIV/AIDS Programme Coordinator Dr. Asif Altaf congratulated the MTWTU on this groundbreaking achievement and said he hoped that it would be the first of many such modules in Europe’s maritime academies.