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Businesses Failing Policies To Tackle Aids Threat

Businesses Failing In Policies To Tackle Aids Threat – UN-Backed Report

In a critical report on the corporate response to the social and business threats of HIV/AIDS, a new United Nations-backed report today lamented that businesses rarely draw up written policies to tackle the crisis, such as counselling, testing and treatment, until 20 per cent of a country’s population is infected.

“As a global community, every level of society needs to be mindful of what they can do to contribute to an effective response to HIV/AIDS,” the Deputy Executive Director of the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), Kathleen Cravero, said of the report, Business and HIV/AIDS: Commitment and Action.

“We hope more businesses will become proactively involved in issues such as AIDS. We know it is not just socially responsible; it is also a good investment.”

The report was jointly published by UNAIDS, the Global Health Initiative (GHI) of the World Economic Forum and the Harvard School of Public Health after a survey of almost 9,000 business leaders in 104 countries.

“Too few companies are responding proactively to the social and business threats of HIV/AIDS,” GHI Director Kate Taylor Despite the fact that 14,000 people contract HIV/AIDS every day, concern among businesses has dropped by 23 per cent in the last 12 months, with most companies – 71 per cent – having no policies in place to address the disease. Over 65 per cent of the business leaders surveyed could not say or estimate the prevalence of HIV within their own workforce.

Anglo American, the international mining and natural resources company, estimates an HIV prevalence rate of 24 per cent in its 130,000-strong southern African workforce. Over the last two years the company has implemented extensive voluntary counselling and testing, coupled with antiretroviral (ARV) therapy for employees progressing to AIDS. Over 90 per cent of the 2,200 employees who have accessed and remained on treatment are well and have returned to normal work.

“Our growing experience shows that effective action on HIV/AIDS is synonymous with good business management and leads to more profitable and sustainable operations,” company Senior Vice-President Brian Brink said.

“Importantly, companies should encourage all workers to know their HIV status, making it as routine as monitoring blood pressure or cholesterol. Providing access to treatment is a critical part of this.”

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