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Workplace Attitudes To HIV/AIDS Vastly Improved

Workplace attitudes to HIV/AIDS vastly improved, reports UN labour agency

15 April 2008 - Effective HIV policies have led to more supportive attitudes at the workplace towards co-workers living with the virus, the United Nations International Labour Organization (ILO) says in a new report.

Prepared by the ILO Programme on HIV/AIDS in the world of work, "Saving lives, Protecting jobs" tracks changes in attitudes related to HIV and presents a series of good practices and data collected from workplaces, ministries of labour and employers' and workers' organizations.

"With 33.2 million people globally living with HIV, the majority of whom are still working and in their most productive years, the workplace is a unique entry point in addressing HIV/AIDS," the agency notes in a news release.

The report summarizes the activities of the Strategic HIV/AIDS Responses in Enterprises (SHARE) project, which is active in over 650 workplaces in 24 countries, covering almost one million workers. It includes data gathered by the ILO over the past four years from six pilot countries - Belize, Benin, Cambodia, Ghana, Guyana and Togo - on the impact of HIV/AIDS activities and non-discrimination policies in the workplace.

"Several countries offer outstanding examples of how they address HIV/AIDS using the workplace for prevention, care and support, and tackle stigma and discrimination," said Dr. Sophia Kisting, Director of the ILO Programme.

The agency reported that in all six pilot countries, workers demonstrated "a marked improvement" in attitudes towards people living with HIV.

The percentage of workers who reported having a supportive attitude towards co-workers living with HIV rose from 49 per cent to 63 per cent on average during the period covered. In Ghana that figure increased from 33 per cent to 63 per cent.

The report also showed that attitudes towards condom use improved considerably in most countries, rising for example in Cambodia from 34 per cent to 68 per cent. Further, the percentage of workers who reported using condoms with non-regular partners rose in all six countries from 74 per cent to 84 per cent.

The ILO attributes the changes in behaviour to better policies and practices in the workplace, including an increase in the number of enterprises in the six pilot countries that have written HIV policies. In addition, employers' and workers' groups are increasingly making use of the ILO's Code of Practice on HIV/AIDS.

ENDS

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