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New Report

ILO: Social protection helps people living with HIV keep their jobs

New ILO study shows that social protection plays a key role in helping people living with HIV to keep their jobs and follow treatment.

News | 27 June 2014
GENEVA (ILO News) – People living with HIV who have access to social protection have a higher chance of retaining their jobs or some form of productive activity, says the International Labour Organization (ILO).

According to a new ILO report titled ACCESS to and EFFECTS of social protection on workers living with HIV and their households: An analytical report, social protection has positive effects on people living with HIV.

The report is based on research covering four countries (Guatemala, Indonesia, Rwanda and Ukraine), all on the UNAIDS list of high HIV impact countries and currently developing or scaling up their social security systems.

The study shows that in the four countries, between 63 and 95 per cent of people living with HIV who had access to social protection were able to keep their jobs or some form of productive activities. At the same time, 49 to 99 per cent reported that their children remained in school and 72 to 96 per cent were able to access life-saving anti-retroviral treatments.

“Access to anti-retroviral treatment keeps people living with HIV alive. But too often, the lack of broader social protection benefits keeps women and men, and their households, vulnerable and poor,” said Alice Ouedraogo, Chief of the ILO’s HIV/AIDS and the World of Work Branch (ILOAIDS), which produced the study.

Representatives of UNAIDS, World Bank, UNICEF, and GNP+ discuss the key role of social protection on workers living with HIV

The report also shows that even when social protection policies do not exclude people living with HIV, they often face challenges in accessing essential services either because they are not aware of existing programmes or the process to access services is too cumbersome.

Stigma still persists

Stigma and discrimination associated with HIV still persists. Workers in the informal economy, particularly women and key populations --sex workers, transgender people, men who have sex with men and injecting drug users -- face greater challenges.

The report also refers to the issue of out-of-pocket expenses, including transport costs to get to health centres, which highlights the need for livelihood support and enhanced coverage of health insurance for people living with HIV, particularly those in the informal economy.

The ILO research suggests that a combination of income, livelihood and employment support is needed, in addition to health services, to further increase the impact of social protection.

“Access to employment or a source of income is critical for people living with HIV, in addition to health insurance and treatment,” says Manuela Tomei, Director of the ILO’s Conditions of Work and Equality Department ILO.

The ILO Recommendation concerning HIV and AIDS and the world of work 2010 (No. 200) provides guidance on how countries can address HIV and AIDS-related issues in the world of work by making them part of national development policies and programmes, including those related to labour, education, social protection and health.

The ILO Social Protection Floor Recommendation (No. 202) calls for progressive realization of social protection coverage, following the principles of universality of coverage, non-discrimination and gender equality.

“As we prepare for the post 2015 development agenda, it is important to invest in policies and programmes that leave no one behind, including people living with HIV and key populations,” concluded Ouedraogo.

    People Living With HIV (PLHIV) 
   Guatemala  Indonesia  Rwanda  Ukraine
 Access to social protection  65%  57%  83%  96%
Access to non-health social protection 19% 16% 25% 31%
Those having access to social protection        
  • Keeping their jobs
63% 69% 95% 91%
  • Children remained at school
n/a 49% 99% 99%
  • Were able to access ART
96% 84% 95% 72%

Watch the interview with Alice Ouedraogo, Chief of the ILO's HIV/AIDS and the World of Work Branch (ILOAIDS)

For more information or to arrange interviews with the authors, please contact the ILO Department of Communication at or +4122/799-7912.