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ILO launches process aimed at adopting new international labour standard on HIV/AIDS in the world of work

Noting that 169 of its 181 Member States have adopted a national policy or strategy concerning HIV/AIDS, the International Labour Office (ILO) is launching a process to adopt a new international labour standard aimed at bolstering the role of the workplace in the global response to the pandemic.

Press release | 14 May 2008

GENEVA (ILO News) ─ Noting that 169 of its 181 Member States have adopted a national policy or strategy concerning HIV/AIDS, the International Labour Office (ILO) is launching a process to adopt a new international labour standard aimed at bolstering the role of the workplace in the global response to the pandemic (Note 1).

A new report, HIV/AIDS and the World of Work, lays the groundwork for discussion at the 2009 and 2010 International Labour Conferences. It is the first of its kind to provide a comprehensive overview of action taken by national governments and international organizations on HIV/AIDS, with specific reference to the world of work, and reveals that many countries have taken significant steps to address the issue of HIV/AIDS in the work of work.

The report finds that more than 70 ILO Member States have, or are in the process of adopting, a general law on HIV/AIDS, while 30 countries have adopted, or are in the process of adopting, specific workplace rules. Other countries deal with HIV/AIDS under either equal opportunities or public health legislation, and some have integrated HIV/AIDS into labour legislation.

HIV is having a devastating effect on the world of work. A majority of the 33.2 million people worldwide now living with HIV are still working and in their most productive years, with skills and experience their families, workplace and country can ill afford to lose. However, despite major advances in attitudes and knowledge about AIDS, many workers still face discrimination, stigma and fear of losing their job.

A labour standard in the form of a Recommendation would reinforce and extend the impact of the ILO Code of Practice on HIV/AIDS and the world of work adopted in 2001, with its focus on the protection and promotion of rights. It would further support joint action on HIV/AIDS by the ILO’s tripartite constituents and other partners, and strengthen the workplace contribution to achieving Universal Access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support.

The first discussion at the 2009 Conference will be an occasion to bring together ILO constituents to consider in detail the valuable experience gained over the past decade. The discussions will be based on Member States’ responses to a questionnaire included in the report, which asks for government, employers’ and workers’ organizations’ views on the potential scope and content of the proposed standard. Given the broad nature of the subject, labour ministries are advised to consult with other national ministries and institutions dealing with HIV/AIDS, including organizations of persons living with HIV (PLHIV) and others engaged in national programmes.

The report has been sent to ILO Member States for their consideration and response by 31 August 2008. A second report will then be produced based on their responses, with conclusions for discussion at the 2009 Conference, and sent out in February 2009.


Note 1 – This gives action to the decision of the ILO Governing Body in March 2007. Report IV(1), HIV/AIDS and the world of work, Fourth item on the agenda. International Labour Conference, June 2009. International Labour Office, Geneva. ISBN 978-92-2-120640-8. ISSN 0074-6681. First edition 2008.