Sisana is HIV Positive and Back at Work

Over a year ago ILO TV interviewed Sisana Buba, a supermarket cashier who was sick at home with an HIV-related illness. ILO TV returned to Swaziland recently to find Sisana feeling well and back at work. The supermarket where she works has a HIV/AIDS workplace policy. As a result Sisana hasn't suffered from discrimination from her colleagues, and has had access to anti-retroviral treatment. Developed with the help of the ILO, this kind of HIV/AIDS workplace policy is now going global, with the adoption of an international labour standard on HIV/AIDS in the world of work at the ILO's 99th International Labour Conference.

Date issued: 17 June 2010 | Size/duration: 00:02:52 (10.46 MB)


More than a year ago, when Sisana Buba’s colleagues discovered she had HIV they didn’t turn their backs on her. Instead, they came bearing gifts....

Sisana Buba, Cashier, Superspar

They came and they did try to give me care. They support me with food, they also helped me with money just to go and get some treatment.

Sisana is a cashier at the Spar supermarket chain in Swaziland. She isn’t the only staff member living with HIV. In this country, over one in four people of working age live with the virus.

Carl Litchfield, Manager, Superspar

In the past it was very stigmatized and no one really wanted to reveal their status. It was like a total no, no. They felt like they would be outcasts in the community and even in the store.

To tackle this problem management put into place an HIV/AIDS workplace programme, developed by the International Labour Organization, and supported by the U.S. Department of Labour and PEPFAR funding. The programme has been implemented in 24 countries in hundreds of enterprises.

Jan Sithole, Secretary General, Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions

Workers who are still afraid of declaring their status, when they see an employer advancing assistance, then they are likely to then declare their status.

At this workplace staff can get confidential, voluntary counselling and testing. And if a worker finds out they are HIV positive, their boss, their colleagues are there to support them, with treatment, and even a friendly visit during work hours for those on sick leave.

Recently, the supermarket changed owners, but the new management is just as determined to keep the program in place.

Mr. Rodgers, Manager Pick n’ Pay

When Pick n’ Pay franchise name came into the picture all the policies that existed with Spar were taken over and all the beliefs and the support that Spar did are still taking place with Pick n’ Pay.

Sisana still lives with HIV but her colleagues no longer need to visit her at home.

Sisana Buba, Cashier, Superspar

To me that the company will support me is a great thing and it’s very nice. It means that there is more improvement to the HIV group. What they are doing is wonderful.

Thanks to the support from her workplace and colleagues, Sisana’s health is taking a turn for the better.