UN Health Official Urges Caribbean Companies to Spend More on HIV Prevention for Employees
November 1, 2005
On Monday in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, the executive director of UNAIDS called on companies to increase their investment in HIV prevention or prepare for the higher health-care costs that accompany rising rates of infection.
"Businesses are not doing enough. ... There is a vast gap between the potential of business to respond to the AIDS epidemic and their actual response in the Caribbean and worldwide," Dr. Peter Piot told a regional health meeting.
According to the Caribbean Association of Industry and Commerce, the cost of treating HIV/AIDS in the region has increased 30 percent in the past five years as infection levels climbed. Piot, however, said research demonstrates that businesses that spend money on HIV prevention programs, education and anti-discrimination efforts can actually save money through reduced health-care costs and a larger force of productive workers. "Not in the first year, but after a number of years there is a real return on investment," Piot said.
The 15-member Caribbean Community, UNAIDS and the Caribbean Association of Industry and Commerce sponsored the one-day conference. The region's HIV infection rate, 2.4 percent of the population, or about 500,000 people, is second only to that of sub-Saharan Africa. The regional figure excludes Cuba, where testing and prevention programs have kept the rate relatively low.
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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.