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ILO sets the tone at the 16th International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa (ICASA)

The International Labour Organization (ILO) is organizing and participating in a series of events to highlight the importance of reducing stigma and discrimination in the workplace at ICASA, which opens Sunday, 4 December, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia under the theme “Own, Scale-up and Sustain”.

News | 01 December 2011

ADDIS ABABA (ILO News) – The International Labour Organization (ILO) is organizing and participating in a series of events to highlight the importance of reducing stigma and discrimination in the workplace at ICASA, which opens Sunday, 4 December, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia under the theme “Own, Scale-up and Sustain”.

Mrs. Alice Ouédraogo, Director of the ILO Programme on HIV/AIDS and the World of Work (ILO/AIDS) said: “Persistent stigma and discrimination based on real or perceived HIV status challenge access to employment and often still results in job losses and increased poverty”.

The international conference opens as ILO Director-General Juan Somavia highlighted “the tremendous potential of the workplace to help shape a unified response as one of the pillars of policies and strategies for zero infection, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths.”

In a statement for World AIDS Day on 1 December, Mr. Somavia expressed regret that “the fundamental rights and freedoms that are at the core of decent work, particularly equality in employment, social protection, privacy and confidentiality are violated on a daily basis in the context of HIV”.

Since adopting the first Code of Practice on HIV and the World of Work in 2001, the ILO has been the global pioneer in providing guidance and support on HIV/AIDS in the workplace.

In 2010, the International Labour Conference adopted the first international labour standard on HIV and AIDS and the World of Work (Recommendation No. 200), which informs the development of national laws and policies to strengthen the protection of the rights of workers living with HIV and facilitate access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support.

The value of Recommendation No. 200 has been further recognized in 2011 as the United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS refers to “all relevant conventions of the International Labour Organization, as well as the guidance provided by the relevant ILO recommendations, including Recommendation No. 200”.

On Monday 5 December, Mrs. Ouédraogo will address the ICASA participants at 10:45 in the non-abstract Driven Session entitled “Enabling legal environment for HIV response” (MOLNADS01). In her intervention Mrs. Ouédraogo will discuss the importance of making workplaces free of stigma and discrimination and the contribution of the ILO’s international labour standard to achieve the goal of zero new infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths by 2015.

On the same day, the ILO is inviting ICASA participants to its satellite session “The New International Labour Standard on HIV and AIDS: Moving from Policy to Action” (MOSAT21) at 17:30 in room B7: Sof Omer. During this interactive discussion, representatives from businesses, trade unions and civil society will address questions such as: How can we assess discrimination at work? How can we ensure enforcement of existing laws for the protection of workers living with HIV? What difference does a new international labour standard on HIV and AIDS make?

The ILO is also organizing three workshops:

  • On Monday, 5 December at 15:45 in room B6: Nechsar: Combination prevention in action: using the workplace as an entry-point
  • On Wednesday, 7 December at 14:00 in room B3: Shalla: Approaches to reach out to "most at risk populations" in "key populations"
  • On Thursday, 8 December at 10:45 in room B3: Shalla: How to advocate for improved HIV and AIDS workplace laws and policies

The ILO is making two oral presentations based on abstracts:

  • “Involving Cooperatives to Improve the National AIDS Response” (WEPDE0203) by Joseph Kemmegne, 12:30 on 7 December, B3:Shalla
  • “Assessing Vulnerability of Liberia Rubber Plantation Workers to HIV” (MOAD0404) by Quermorllue, Samuel, 14:00 on 5 December, A3: Fasiledes.
  • Four posters based on abstract presented on ILO initiatives in Burkina Faso, Lesotho, Mozambique and Senegal will be presented.

ILO speakers will also participate in the following events organized by partners:

  • Overcoming inaction in workplace HIV and TB control – Integration into Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) as a path to greater ownership and sustainability, Satellite session, 5 December, 10:00 – 11:30, B5: Nyala
  • Human right issues take the centre Stage in the workplace- Integrating HIV, SRHR and MCH in the workplace, Side event, 17:00-19:00, Hotel Siyonat, Bole Medhanialem

The ILO is a UNAIDS co-sponsor and the lead UN agency for HIV/AIDS policies and programmes in the world of work and private sector mobilization. Addressing HIV/AIDS is an integral part of the ILO’s Decent Work Agenda. The ILO Programme on HIV/AIDS and the World of Work (ILO/AIDS) was established in 2001 and contributes to the UN Millennium Development Goals by achieving universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support through workplaces.

For more information, during ICASA 2011 in Addis Ababa, contact:

  • Guebray Berhane, Regional Communications Officer, ILO Regional Office for Africa, +251/911-21-8115
  • Josée Laporte, Senior Programme and Operations Officer, ILO Programme on HIV/AIDS and the world of work, +4178/882-6118
  • Adam Bowers, Communications Officer, ILO Geneva, +4122/799-6126

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