New ILO Study on Responsed to HIV and AIDS at Work in Africa

HIV and AIDS workplace initiatives should be integrated into national AIDS programmes says a new ILO report, "Effective Responses to HIV and AIDS at Work: A Multi-Country Study in Africa"

The study provides an assessment of HIV and AIDS workplace initiatives across 10 African countries: Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Senegal, South Africa and Zambia. The study is based on research conducted between January 2013 and October 2014 in a total of 66 workplaces – public, private, formal and informal.

Key facts, figures and findings

- Leadership makes the most significant contribution

- Approximately 65 per cent of the workplaces investigated provided solid evidence of actions that led to changing or reducing risky behaviours,

- Approximately 79 per cent of the workplaces studied provided evidence that they had increased uptake of voluntary counselling and testing (VCT) services. The use of peer educators in 81 per cent of the workplaces to promote VCT was a cost-effective strategy.

- The costs of not having a workplace programme far exceed the cost of having one. Six workplaces in three countries (Namibia, Kenya and Zambia) undertook positive cost-benefit analyses.

- Public-private partnerships are essential. The introduction of low-cost insurance plans in Namibia, Zambia and Kenya helped companies save costs they were facing due to absenteeism.
- In 96 per cent of the workplaces surveyed, the establishment of a sound monitoring and evaluation system proved essential in assessing and tracking changes in the levels of knowledge, identifying gaps and redefining strategies.

- Reducing stigma and discrimination: Only 14 per cent of workplaces investigated were able to provide conclusive evidence that their programmes had reduced HIV-related discrimination.

- The study highlights the importance of meaningful engagement of people living with HIV (PLHIV) in all activities.

- Employment has a reinforcing role on HIV treatment adherence.

- Gender-specific strategies were identified such as ensuring access to male and female condoms; having training sessions on addressing sexual harassment; and empowering women as change agents.