A significant increase in supportive attitudes at the workplace towards co-workers living with HIV as well as greater acceptance of condoms and other preventive measures are being registered around the world as a result of effective HIV policies and practices, according to a new report by the International Labour Office (ILO).
The new report, entitled “Saving lives, Protecting jobs”, prepared by the ILO Programme on HIV/AIDS in the world of work was presented today to the U.S. Department of Labor, the ILO’s funding partner in the Strategic HIV/AIDS Responses in Enterprises (SHARE) project. The report summarizes the activities of the ILO SHARE project currently active in over 650 workplaces in 24 countries, covering almost one million workers.
The report tracks changes in attitudes related to HIV and presents a series of good practices and data collected from workplaces, ministries of labour, employers’ and workers’ organizations collaborating with the ILO.
“SHARE helps to protect the ILO’s constituents from HIV, which challenges the implementation of its decent work agenda.” said Dr Sophia Kisting, Director of the ILO Programme on HIV/AIDS and the world of work. “Several countries offer outstanding examples of how they address HIV/AIDS using the workplace for prevention, care and support, and tackle stigma and discrimination”, she added.
Over the last four years the ILO has gathered data from managers and workers at partner workplaces in six pilot countries to measure the impact of HIV/AIDS activities and non-discrimination policies. In Belize, Benin, Cambodia, Ghana, Guyana and Togo, workers demonstrated a marked improvement in attitudes towards people living with HIV.
In Ghana, the percentage of workers who reported having a supportive attitude towards co-workers living with HIV increased from 33 per cent to 63 per cent. In all six countries surveyed, the proportion of workers who reported supportive behaviour towards co-workers living with HIV rose from 49 per cent to 63 per cent on average during the life of the programme.
Attitudes towards condom use also improved considerably in most countries. In Cambodia, the proportion of workers who reported having a positive attitude towards condom use increased from 34 per cent to 68 per cent. Across all six countries, the percentage of workers who reported using condoms with non-regular partners rose from 74 per cent to 84 per cent.
The recorded changes in behaviour could be attributed in part to increased access to HIV services in enterprises in all six countries. At the start of SHARE in 2003, only 14 per cent of the participating enterprises in the six pilot countries had written HIV policies. When the impact survey was conducted 76 per cent of the participating enterprises had written HIV policies in place. The report shows that employers’ and workers’ organizations are increasingly using the ILO’s Code of Practice on HIV/AIDS to develop policies and practices for the workplace.
Success in developing HIV policies is firmly rooted in the collaboration between workers’ and their employers’. The report highlights a number of policies on HIV/AIDS at the enterprise and national levels including instances where policies are included in collective bargaining agreements. Overall, 16 of the 24 countries where SHARE is implementing projects have adopted a national tripartite policy or declaration on HIV and the world of work. 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.
Today’s launch is to be followed by a series of events in a campaign to highlight changing patterns on HIV/AIDS in the world of work. The report will also be presented to the global AIDS community at the International AIDS Conference in Mexico on 3-8 August.
The report is available on-line at the ILO-AIDS web site www.ilo.org/aids.
For an in-depth QandA on the SHARE report and HIV/AIDS in the world of work, see: http://www.ilo.org/global/About_the_ILO/Media_and_public_information/I-News/lang--en/WCMS_092034/index.htm
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