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PANCAP proposes HIV/AIDS workplace program

PANCAP proposes HIV/AIDS workplace program


Employers and enterprises are being urged to support HIV prevention education in the workplace, and provide care, support or referral services to persons affected or infected with HIV/AIDS.{{more}}

The call came from Pan Caribbean Partnership Against HIV/AIDS (PANCAP) spokesperson Ingrid Sarabo at a forum organized by the St. Vincent Employers Federation on Wednesday June 4th.

Sarabo indicated that the Guyana-based organization’s aim is to have businesses deal with the problem of HIV/AIDS in the workplace before it becomes totally uncontrollable within the work environment.

“Our request is for enterprises to respond to the epidemic as it exists. We cannot wait until the impact is so severe that it cripples us.”

“We are asking enterprises to endorse the commitment to participate in the workplace programme.”

She indicated that a number of steps would have to be put in place to accommodate HIV education in the workplace.

These include the appointment of facilitators in each CARICOM territory, to deliver educational sessions in the workplace, adapted and adopt policies put forward by the organization to suit the business place, and the workplace programme must be agreed to and signed by a representative of the enterprise.

According to Sarabo, education about HIV/AIDS in the work place would, among other things, decrease stigma and discrimination among workers, and let staff members know what to do if or when they have tested positive for HIV/AIDS, or have a friend or coworker who tested positive.

“It is clear that everyone is affected by HIV: the individual, the employees, the employers, and ultimately the entire country.”

Some of the impact that HIV/AIDS has on the workforce includes the lower productivity, declining profits and shrinking labour market on the part of the employer, decreased disposable income, fewer employees reaching retirement age, increased expenditure on sickness or death related matters for the employee, and from the country’s standpoint a decline in tax revenue, reduced investment in the development of the economy and reduced contributions to social security systems.

Statistics show that (i) 90% of people do not know that they are HIV positive (ii) Over 90% of people with HIV/AIDS are in their productive prime. (iii) Anyone sexually active is at risk of contracting HIV/AIDS (iv) HIV/AIDS affects more women and youth, the bulk of most nations’ workforce.(JJ)