Yellow Taxis and Red Ribbons
Taxis play a significant role in the transportation of people in major cities such as Tehran. According to statistics by the Iranian Police Forces, four million passengers are transferred by taxis every day in Tehran alone. Informal chats on various issues often take place between passengers and taxi drivers during these trips, which renders this means of transportation an important setting for information sharing and highlights the role of taxis and taxi drivers in the flow and distribution of information in society. The investment in awareness-raising for this segment of society, therefore, can be beneficial for a much larger group.
With this in mind, UNODC Iran organized the festival of "Yellow Taxis and Red Ribbons" on Sunday, 1 December 2013, as one of its activities on the occasion of World AIDS Day 2013. The activity aimed to address the general public and enhance public knowledge on HIV/AIDS, and the stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS, through the taxi drivers who are in direct contact with people every day. It was carried out in 10 main Taxi Terminals in Tehran and 5 terminals in Mashhad. Thirty-two university students who had received specific training on the subject of HIV/AIDS were present at these terminals to provide people and taxi drivers with information and answer their questions. All the taxi drivers who referred to the trained personnel of the project received posters and red ribbons to ornament their cars, in addition to information, brochures and questionnaires on the subject.
The main issues covered in the course of this activity and enquired on by the people present at the terminals were: the methods of HIV transmission, the difference between HIV and AIDS, the "myths" and misconceptions about HIV/AIDS, the methods of prevention, and the issue of stigma and discrimination against people who are living with HIV/AIDS. It was well received by the drivers, passengers, and other people present at the terminals who appreciated the initiative of benefitting from this frequently used means of transportation to offer information on this important subject.
The Yellow Taxis and Red Ribbons Festival was one of three activities which were organized by UNODC Iran to commemorate World AIDS Day 2013, in cooperation with the Drug Control Headquarters of the Islamic Republic of Iran, with the purpose of raising public awareness and reducing stigma and discrimination against people who are living with HIV/AIDS. The other two activities included a Kites and Red Ribbons Festival at a major park in Tehran and a Press Festival on HIV/AIDS, recognizing the works of people active in the Press on the subjetct.