HIV/AIDS workplace policies and programmes

HIV/AIDS prevalence in the Pacific Island Countries remains low, except for the case of Papua New Guinea. HIV started out as a health issue and it remains so for the most part of a Person Living With HIV/AIDS (PLWHA)’s life. HIV/AIDS is, however, becoming more and more a development issue for Pacific Islands Countries. Lack of economic opportunities, lack of education, lack of health care, inequality and discrimination are all key factors which lead to the propagation of the virus.

Successful HIV/AIDS management requires compassion and education for all in all sectors of life, in the family and communities, in the churches and markets, and in the workplaces of the formal and informal sectors. The spirit of compassion and the ‘humanizing of AIDS’ is vital for the prevention of HIV and AIDS and these are qualities inherent in Pacific cultures.

Pacific Island workplaces have a crucial role to address HIV and AIDS. Working women and men come together in workplaces where they spend most of their working lives to learn and talk about the challenges of the pandemic. Together with management, they develop and implement workplace policies and programmes to prevent the spread of HIV. At home, in their communities, these working women and men spend time to talk about the HIV virus to their children, extended families and their wider communities.

Under the Pacific Decent Work Country Programmes (DWCP), activities are conducted to mainstream HIV and decent work in their labour laws, administration and inspectorate. In the 8 Pacific Island member states of the ILO, Fiji has a National Code of Practice for HIV/AIDS workplace policies (2008) developed by the tripartite+ partners as part of its Employment Relations Promulgation and it recently passed a decree on HIV/AIDS. Papua New Guinea has a HIV/AIDS Management and Prevention Act (2003) and together with the Solomon Islands is working towards a National Code of Practice for HIV/AIDS workplace policies. Kiribati, Samoa, Tuvalu and Vanuatu are at the raising awareness level on HIV workplace policies and programmes. It is envisaged that over the next few years, these member States will work towards national policies for HIV/AIDS workplace policies and programmes. In mainstreaming HIV/AIDS in the world of work, a number of groups have been identified as being most at risk persons (MARPS) and these include: women, youth, migrant workers, child trafficking victims, seasonal workers, m who have sex with men, people living with HIV-AIDS and persons with disabilities.