AIDS impacts workplace, affects economy


AIDSHIV/AIDS is costing more than 1 million jobs annually worldwide, with most of those losses in sub-Saharan African, according to a report from the International Labor Organization (ILO).

Containing updated estimates of HIV’s impact on the world of work, the labor force and the working-age population in 60 countries, the report ILO released Nov. 30 also looked at such issues as the effect of AIDS on employment growth.

Among its findings:

  • In 2005, more than 3 million workers worldwide were partially or fully unable to work because of illness attributable to AIDS.
  • Three-fourths of those workers lived in sub-Saharan Africa, and more than 40 percent of workers with AIDS are women.
  • Forty-three countries affected heavily by HIV/AIDS lost on average half a percentage point in their rate of economic growth annually between 1992 and 2004. As a result, they forfeited 0.3 percentage points in employment growth.
  • Unemployment for young people with HIV/AIDS considered to be of working age is two to three times as high as for their adult counterparts.
  • Approximately 5,500 people age 15 to 24 acquire HIV each day.
ILO and other organizations, such as the National HIV/AIDS Partnership (NHAP), based in Washington, D.C., are encouraging employers to raise awareness of HIV and AIDS in the workplace.

The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) has a 14-year-old program, Business Responds to AIDS, that encourages business executives, managers and labor leaders to undertake workplace education about HIV that includes developing written policies; providing employee education; supporting education efforts for employees’ families; developing manger, labor leader and supervisor training about companies’ policies and education programs; and providing corporate support and encouraging employees to volunteer for HIV-prevention activities in their communities.

NHAP is working to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS and to engage leaders from business, civic and faith-based organizations, the health care industry, and the media/entertainment industry in activities to increase awareness, prevention, testing and care, according to its web site.

Dec. 1 marked World AIDS Day, when NHAP saluted outstanding business and civic leaders across the United States with Red Ribbon Leadership Awards for their efforts in communications, programs or policies to stop the spread of HIV and AIDS.

Winners of the Red Ribbon Leadership Awards:

    • Julian Bond, chairman of the NAACP.

    • HIV/AIDS Resource Center, Ann Arbor-Ypsilanti, Mich.

    • The Rev. Luis Cortes Jr., president of Esperanza USA.

    • Cable Positive.

    • Bethel ANGELS (AIDS Network Gives Education, Love and Support), Morristown, N.J.

    • Joe Norton, associate director of Education and Research for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS Inc.

    • Metro Teen AIDS in Washington, D.C.

    • Patricia Bass, chairman of CAEAR, (Communities Advocating Emergency AIDS Relief Coalition), Philadelphia.

    • Catherine Hanssens, J.D., founder of the Center for HIV Law and Policy, New York City.

    • Arnold Perkins, director of the Alameda County Public Health Department, Oakland, Calif.

    • David Lizarraga, chairman, president and CEO of TELACU and chairman of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

    • Phill Wilson, CEO, Black AIDS Institute, Los Angeles.

    • Redzebra Integrated and Insights U.S., LLC.

    • M-A-C Cosmetics, M-A-C AIDS Fund.

    • Larry McKeon, member of the Illinois House of Representatives.

    • Dr. Benny Primm, founder and executive director, Addiction Research and Treatment Corp., Brooklyn, N.Y.

Keith Greene, SPHR, the Society for Human Resource Management’s vice president of member relations, served as a judge for the awards.

“Educate your employees and make material available to your employees on modes of [AIDS] transmission,” he told HR News. “That kind of information may not be for the employee; it could be for their kid.

“There’s a need to educate the youth and I think the fear is we are seeing the death rate from this disease go down and so people think ‘what’s the big deal?’ ”

However, “it has a terrible impact on productivity and healthcare costs, because the costs of treatment are very, very high, and that’s assuming people get treated. There are a lot of people out there who don’t know they are infected.”

He noted there are more than 1 million people in the United States living with HIV/AIDS and more than 40,000 new cases are diagnosed annually. One way to raise awareness is by encouraging participation in the annual HIV/AIDS walk, which is held at different times around the country, he noted.

“As HR professionals, we have a responsibility to educate our employees and their families with a strong, simple yet powerful message: Get tested. Be safe. Get care.”

Universal access to AIDS prevention and care depends on workplace action, the ILO said during the XVI International AIDS Conference in Toronto in August 2006.

AIDS is a workplace issue, the ILO says, because it affects labor and productivity, and the workplace “has a vital role to play in the wider struggle to limit the spread and effects of the epidemic.”

source SHRM