Access for all has been the theme of the AIDS conference in Bangkok this week. According to a new report from the International Labour Office, most of those infected are of working age, and some companies are finding that the workplace may be an effective way to reach those with HIV and their families. ILO TV reports:
Asia’s workforce forms the assembly lines of a growing number of production centres for the global market. But also growing are the numbers of workers infected with HIV. A new report from the International Labour Office or ILO says “of the nearly 38 million people infected with HIV/AIDS worldwide, over 36 million are of working age”.
The General Motors assembly plant is in Rayong, a province with one of the highest HIV infection rates in Thailand. With the help of the ILO, GM has runs a highly successful workplace programme designed to educate and train its 3,000 employees about HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention.
Our employees are more tolerant and accepting of our work colleagues who have HIV/AIDS. The company does not test for HIV/AIDS so even people who are infected with HIV are allowed to work here.
The company does not screen its workers for HIV, but makes access to voluntary counselling and testing available under a company policy that emphasizes non-discrimination.
Ken Thompson, Asia-Pacific Regional Safety Manager, General Motors
It’s the right thing to do it’s the moral thing to do, and when all is said and done if you don’t have a community, if you have a sick community or a community that’s experiencing a lot of difficulties with HIV/AIDS, that affects everybody. It affects your employees, their families and ultimately our customers…
The program at GM and more than 60 other companies in Rayong Province have been so successful that Thailand’s Ministry of Labour is expanding activities to 28 other provinces. It is a move that comes none too soon…
Franklyn Lisk, ILO AIDS expert
If nothing is done, the situation could be catastrophic in the next five to ten years...
The number of workers lost to HIV in the next decade could grow to 74 million, making it one of the biggest causes of death in the world of work.