South Africa: Reluctance to Have HIV Tests at Work May Thwart Target
May 6, 2010
AIDS stigma remains a "huge barrier" to HIV testing at work, according to preliminary results from a new South African Business Coalition Against HIV/AIDS survey.
The survey included 204 Western Cape companies from the agricultural, manufacturing, construction, retail, tourism, finance and transportation sectors. Of these, 74 percent had an HIV/AIDS policy in place, and 53 percent offered HIV testing at work. However, just 17 percent of employees took up the offer of on-site testing.
Dr. Chan Makan, CEO of the Metropolitan Foundation, which conducted the study, said, "Anecdotal evidence suggests people are reluctant to test in familiar places," preferring to go where they will not be recognized by colleagues or friends.
Yet some businesses managed to post testing rates of more than 80 percent. And more and more companies find that incorporating HIV testing with cholesterol and blood pressure checks as part of "wellness" programs got a better response rate than stand-alone HIV testing.
The coalition is working to coordinate the business sector's response to the government's goal of testing 15 million South Africans for HIV by June 2011. The government expects the private sector will fund 2 million of these tests, with some taking place at work.
Under a draft HIV testing strategy, currently available for public comment, the coalition estimates testing 2 million people will cost 500 million rand (US $65 million), half of which is already committed through medical plans.
Business Day (South Africa)
05.05.2010; Tamar Kahn