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Taking A Professional Approach To
H V
HIV should be treated like any
other serious illness or condition
in the workplace. Since there are
now antiretroviral drugs (ARVs),
the virus is no longer considered
a death sentence, and is on par
with other chronic diseases,
like hypertension (high blood
pressure) or diabetes (“sugar”).
The local business community has a role
to play in the wider struggle to limit the
spread and effects of the epidemic. People
need to work in order to contribute to the
society. Beyond the suffering imposed on
individuals and their families, the epidemic
is profoundly affecting the social and
economic fabric of societies.
HIV/AIDS is a major threat to the
world of work, as it is affecting the most
productive segment of the labour force. It is
mitigate its impact on workers and families
global effort to fight HIV/AIDS.
also imposing huge costs on enterprises in
and provide social protection to help cope
all sectors through declining productivity,
with the disease. It covers key principles, Employers have a responsibility to educate
increasing labour costs and loss of skills
such as the recognition of HIV/AIDS as themselves about HIV and AIDS, so as to
and experience. In addition, HIV/AIDS
a workplace issue; non-discrimination in provide their workers with sensitive, accurate
is affecting fundamental rights at work,
employment; gender equality; screening and and up-to-date information on HIV and
particularly with respect to discrimination
confidentiality; social dialogue; prevention, AIDS to reduce stigma.
and stigmatisation aimed at workers and
care and support as the basis for addressing
people living with and affected by HIV/
In addition to participating in information
the epidemic in the work place.
AIDS. The epidemic and its impact strike
and educational programmes directed at all
hardest at vulnerable groups including
This code is the product of collaboration supervisory and managerial personnel, they
women and children, thereby increasing
between the ILO and tripartite constituents, should receive training to:
existing gender inequalities and exacerbating
as well as co-operation with its international
• Enable them to explain and respond to
the problem of child labour.
partners, for example UNAIDS. It
questions about the workplace’s HIV/AIDS
provides invaluable practical guidance to
This is why the International Labour
policy.
policy-maker, employers’ and workers’
Office (ILO) is committed to making a
• Explain reasonable accommodation
organisations, and social partners for
strong statement through a code of practice
options to workers so as to enable them to
formulating and implementing appropriate
on HIV/AIDS and the world of work.
continue to work as long as possible.
workplace policy, prevention and care
The code will be instrumental in helping
• Enable them to advise about the health
programmes, and for establishing strategies
to prevent the spread of the epidemic,
services and social benefits which are
to address workers in the informal sector.
available.
This is an important ILO contribution to the
12 | BusinessFocus • August/September 2008
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