Safer workplaces by integrating HIV and COVID-19 prevention programme

The ILO and its social partners continue to promote an integrated prevention programme for both HIV and COVID-19 to create safer, more productive workplaces.

News | Jakarta, Indonesia | 22 February 2021
COVID-19 testing conducted at the workplace
The COVID-19 pandemic has burdened health systems and disrupted routine medical care for many people globally and nationally. As a result, many people living with HIV and other diseases such as tuberculosis (TB) are facing major barriers to accessing the care and the medicine they need to survive.

The disruption caused by the pandemic may create conditions that facilitate the spread of HIV, as people may be unable to access services such as HIV testing and treatment. All of these changes could also make it more difficult to reach vulnerable populations.

The ILO in collaboration with the Ministry of Manpower and the Indonesian Medical Association for Occupational Health (IDKI) recently launched a Guideline on COVID-19 Prevention and Control at Workplace. Understanding the importance of an integrated programme and ensuring the other health programme are not left behind, the Guideline has included key integrated measurements for the adjustment of prevention and handling of COVID-19 and HIV/AIDS, among others:
  • Confidentiality policy in relations to numerous daring consultation.
  • An informed consent on health status disclosure, if certain conditions are required to inform people with HIV infected by COVID-19.
  • An integrated campaign on HIV and COVID-19 and the usage of digital media.
  • An integrated testing programme for HIV and COVID-19.
  • A special intention given to people living with HIV who are vulnerable being infected by COVID-19.
  • A multi month dispensing by giving ARV treatment for 3 months (not one month) to avoid repetitive visits to medical health services.

Integrated programmes at company level

Some companies have integrated their HIV and COVID-19 prevention and control programmes. The integrated programme at the company level show the evidence that during the COVID-19 pandemic, the implementation of HIV/AIDS prevention programme at workplace remains feasible.

Port workers and sea fares are vulnerable to HIV and COVID-19
An integrated programme was conducted at Tanjung Emas port, in Semarang, Central Java for two months in November-December 2020. The port manages at least 640 port workers and 3,000 mobile seafarers monthly. Due to their nature of works, seafarers and port workers—the majority of whom are male and mobile—are vulnerable to both HIV and COVID-19.

The programme started with the integrated education and socialization programme on HIV and COVID-19 for all staff, including the port’s high-level management. This programme was conducted with support from the port health office and a local NGO deals with HIV issue, Kalandara Foundation, followed by a voluntarily HIV counselling and test (VCT@Work) programme.

The VCT programme applied the COVID-19 protocols (physical distancing, mask wearing, sanitizing and so forth) with a participation of 182 seafarers and port workers. The programme also referred to ARV treatment for those who were diagnosed HIV positive.

The programme concluded with the signing of a non-discriminatory policy at Tanjung Emas port by the Authority of Tanjung Emas Port, Indonesia National Shipowners’ Association (INSA) and the Indonesian Trade Union Confederation (KSPSI). The policy highlighted the rights of people living with HIV and people infected by COVID-19 from discrimination at workplace.

At the company level, PT Cilegon Fabricators has successfully taken measures to integrate prevention programmes for both pandemics. Located in Serang, Banten, the company employs a total of 1,126 workers, of whom 1,100 are male workers.

The integration programme was conducted in collaboration with the local primary health clinic and a local NGO deals with HIV issue, Kusuma Buana Foundation. The programme includes the combination of educational materials for both HIV and COVID-19, an integrated training programme for various departments, including the OSH team and an integrated testing programme for both VCT@work and rapid test.

“With this current pandemic, we have integrated HIV prevention programme with COVID-19 programme. This is to ensure a safe workplace and a protection for both our workers and the management,” explained dr Irwan Wicaksono, HSE Manager and Company Doctor of PT Cilegon Fabricators.