HIV/AIDS Prevention in the World of Work in Sri Lanka

The Project aims to contribute to the prevention of HIV/AIDS in the world of work, the enhancement of workplace protection and the reduction of its adverse consequences on social, labour, and economic development.


Sri Lanka has an estimated 4,500 people living with HIV/AIDS with a prevalence of <0.1 per cent. The actual prevalence may be higher and the number of new infections ahs shown an increasing trend. Although the HIV prevalence is low the vulnerability to an escalation of the incidence of HIV infection is high due to factors such as; large youth population, internal & external migration, growing commercial sex industry, tourism, increase in sexually transmitted infections, low levels of condom use, drug use, the presence of military in conflict affected areas, displacement of people due to conflict etc. The seriousness of HIV/AIDS risk to the world of work is evident from the fact that 90 % of infections have been reported from 20-49 years of age group, the economically most productive segment.


The project aims to contribute to:

  • the prevention of HIV/AIDS in the world of work;
  • the enhancement of workplace protection; and
  • the reduction of its adverse consequences on social, labour, and economic development.

The development objectives of the project are to:

  • reduce levels of employment-related discrimination against persons living with HIV/AIDS; and
  • reduce HIV/AIDS risk behaviors among targeted workers.

Project strategy

The project strategy has two clear components:

  • a tailor made behaviour change communication (BCC) programme that is being put into operation as a pilot project in 13 workplaces which include five hotels, four estates and four manufacturing sector factories; and
  • capacity building of tripartite constituents to address HIV/AIDS at national level.

Key project achievements

  • Developing a national tripartite declaration on prevention of HIV/AIDS in workplaces: The tripartite constituents developed a National Tripartite Declaration and 18 signatories from the Government, employers’ organisations and trade unions signed the Declaration on the 3 April 2007
  • Developing a joint trade union policy for prevention of HIV/AIDS in workplaces: Twenty two Trade Unions from the public and the private sector signed the Policy on 29 January 2008 and participated in a media briefing with twelve media personnel
  • Introducing workplace HIV/AIDS policies: 11 of the 13 enterprises have adopted workplace HIV/AIDS policies and all the enterprises are implementing behaviour change communication programmes in the enterprises
  • Integrating HIV/AIDS prevention in the world of work in the draft National AIDS Policy and National Strategic Plan
  • Training for peer educators: Two hundred and sixty two peer educators have been trained in 14 workplaces to implement BCC programmes
  • Training of trainers
  • Building capacity of tripartite constituents

Department of Labour

Labour commissioners and assistant district labour commissioners have been sensitised on HIV/AIDS and workplace issues. 101 labour officers and human resource development officers were trained as trainers to integrate HIV/AIDS education programmes in workplaces at district level.

Employers’ organisations

Capacity of the Employers’ Federation of Ceylon (EFC) and the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC) has being strengthened to integrate HIV/AIDS in their activities with enterprises and corporates. The EFC has integrated modules on HIV/AIDS in three of their certificate training programmes and regularly include updates on HIV/AIDS in their newsletters. The CCC has a CSR committee on HIV/AIDS prevention.

Trade unions

Leaders, representatives and members of four leading trade unions have been sensitised on HIV/AIDS. Trainers were trained for two trade unions. The National Workers Congress (NWC) implemented a pilot project to create awareness and change risky behaviours among 600 domestic workers and 600 free trade zone workers.

Other achievements

  • Capacity building of people living with HIV/AIDS (PLHIVs)
  • Conducting capacity building programmes on peer leadership and communication skills development were for PLHIVs and assistance was provided for resource mobilisation
  • Sensitising the media through a media seminar in 2007 to educate journalists and other media personnel on responsible reporting on HIV/AIDS
  • Facilitating the establishment of the Sri Lanka Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS: In August 2007 the Standard Charted Bank, the CCC, EFC and the ILO and other business leaders joined in launching the Sri Lanka Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS
  • Integrating HIV/AIDS in ILO projects: HIV/AIDS education was integrated in ILO projects such as the Factory Improvement Programme (FIP), Start and Improve Your Business, Jobsnet and the gender sensitization programme. Through the FIP project, capacity was enhanced in 10 garment factories to implement HIV/AIDS workplace education programmes

For further information

Dr Indira Hettiarachchi

National Project Coordinator