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Workplace Attitudes Toward HIV/AIDS, Acceptance of Condoms Improving, ILO Report Finds

April 17, 2008

Workplace attitudes toward people living with HIV/AIDS, and acceptance of condom use and other preventive measures have increased in some countries as a result of HIV policies and practices, according to a report by the International Labour Organization, the U.N. News Service reports (U.N. News Service, 4/15). The report, titled "Saving Lives, Protecting Jobs," was prepared by the ILO Programme on HIV/AIDS in the World of Work and presented Monday to the U.S. Department of Labor, which is the funding partner in the Strategic HIV/AIDS Responses in Enterprises, or SHARE, project, Occupational Health Safety reports.

The report tracked changes in attitudes related to HIV/AIDS and looked at data collected from the ministries of labor, and employers and employees from workplaces in six SHARE pilot countries, including Belize, Benin, Cambodia, Ghana, Guyana and Togo. According to the report, in all six countries, the proportion of workers who reported supportive attitudes toward co-workers living with HIV/AIDS increased on average from 49% in 2003 to 63% (Occupational Health Safety, 4/15). Attitudes toward condom use also improved in the six countries. The percentage of workers who reported using condoms with nonregular partners increased from 74% in 2003 to 84%, the report found. The recorded changes in behavior could be attributed partly to the increased access to HIV services in the workplaces in all six countries, the report noted (U.N. News Service, 4/15). According to an ILO release, the report also found that in 2003 when SHARE started, only 14% of the participating workplaces in the six pilot countries had codified HIV policies. The report found that 76% of the participating enterprises now have written policies.

ILO's SHARE project is active in more than 650 workplaces in 24 countries and covers about one million workers. Of the 24 countries, 16 have adopted a national policy or declaration on HIV. Sophia Kisting, director of ILO's Programme on HIV/AIDS in the World of Work, said the program "helps to protect the ILO's constituents from HIV, which challenges the implementation of its decent work agenda." She added, "Several countries offer outstanding examples of how they address HIV/AIDS using the workplace for prevention, care and support and tackle stigma and discrimination." The report also indicates that employers' and workers' organizations are using ILO's Code of Practice on HIV/AIDS to develop policies and practices for the workplace, according to the release (ILO release, 4/14).

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