World AIDS Day 2018

Timely HIV testing is key to workers’ health

Do you know your HIV status? In around 50 countries HIV infections are still rising and everywhere death rates are still too high.

Statement | Geneva | 30 November 2018
© Narayan Maharjan / NurPhoto
A recent ILO report projects that some 500,000 people of working age will die in 2020 from HIV-related illnesses. What’s more, most of these people are dying in their late 30s, normally the peak of their productive working life. So it’s not just a human cost; the damage to businesses and economies can be measured in billions of dollars.

Yet, this is totally avoidable. The first step is to get tested. The theme of the 2018 World AIDS DayKnow your status – is a timely reminder.

Involving workplaces in HIV testing brings results and saves lives. Through the ILO’s Voluntary HIV Counselling and Testing for Workers (VCT@WORK) Initiative more than four million workers were tested and more than 100,000 were referred for antiretroviral treatment. This clearly shows that the workplace is key to expanding services to those who are not adequately covered.

Another encouraging factor is that the range of test options is increasing. For example, HIV self-test kits are now available, and the ILO and the WHO have launched a policy brief on HIV self-testing at the workplace.

An effective workplace HIV policy, guaranteeing non-discrimination and including partnerships with local health facilities, is essential if the positive impact of testing is to be realized.

Globally 25 per cent of people living with HIV are ignorant of their status. Don’t be one of them.

Take control of your health. Get tested. Don’t be left behind.