17th International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa (ICASA)

Cape Town – The International Labour Organization (ILO) is organizing a series of events to underline the importance of employment and the workplace in the fight against HIV and AIDS, at the 17th International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa (ICASA).

The ICASA Conference opens on 7 December 2013, at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, South Africa, under the theme "Now more than ever: targeting zero." It will bring together around 10,000 scientists, policy makers, activists, government and civil society leaders.

The ILO will highlight the contribution workplaces can make in reaching the global target of providing antiretroviral treatment to 15 million people living with HIV by 2015.

On Monday 9 December, the ILO will organize a side event: “TREATMENT@WORK: the impact of employment on treatment adherence”. It will take place from 13:30 to 15:50, at the Webber Wentzel Café, on the 15th floor of the International Convention Centre.

During this event, researchers, parliamentarians, government, employers and workers representatives, and UN officials will discuss evidence and experiences around the impact of employment on improving treatment adherence and agree on key recommendations for future action.

The ILO and the Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers’ Union (SACTWU) will also offer free voluntary and confidential counselling and testing (VCT) services, at the ICASA Community Village from 7 to 11 December.

This is part of the ILO VCT@Work initiative, which encourages workers to know their HIV status and aims to reach 5 million workers by 2015. Currently, only half of all people living with HIV know their status, which is the first step to receiving treatment.

The initiative, supported by UNAIDS, stipulates that HIV testing must be genuinely voluntary, that results should be confidential and that testing should not endanger access to jobs, retention in employment or opportunities for advancement.

At the ILO “WORK ON YOUR HEALTH: live and work with dignity” stand, all ICASA participants will be able to access information and test for different conditions.

A recent report by the ILO showed that people living with HIV who are employed are almost 40 per cent more likely to stick to HIV treatment than those without a job.

“Employment is not only a right – it is part of the treatment,” the ILO Director-General said, emphasizing the study findings is a statement on World AIDS Day.

The ILO is also involved in the following events:

• On Saturday 7 December

A Satellite session (satS23) “Social protection interventions: Catalysts to end AIDS” co-organized by UNAIDS, UNICEF and ILO to be held in the Convention Centre in 840 Ballroom West from 15:00 to 16:30.

• On Tuesday and Wednesday 10 and 11 December

The ILO will present three abstracts selected for poster presentation in Exhibition Hall 4B: Reducing HIV vulnerability through economic empowerment along transport corridors in Southern Africa (PB636), Améliorer les conditions de travail des professionnels de la santé et lutter contre le VIH et le sida dans les hôpitaux (PB731), Getting to zero through workplaces in Ethiopia (PB749).

• On Wednesday 11 December

ILO will be speaking in a session on Partnerships, to present on and discuss the model of public-private partnership on HIV and AIDS in Cameroon from 10:00 to 11:30 in 1080 Ballroom East.

The ILO is a UNAIDS co-sponsor and the lead UN agency for HIV/AIDS policies and programmes in the world of work and private sector mobilization. Addressing HIV and AIDS is an integral part of the ILO’s Decent Work Agenda. The HIV/AIDS and the World of Work Branch (previously Programme) was established in 2001 and contributes to the UN Millennium Development Goals by achieving universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support through workplaces.

For more information, during the 17th International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa, please contact:

Guebray Berhane, Senior ILO Regional Communications Officer for Africa, + 251 115 44 4415 or guebray@ilo.org
Josée Laporte, Communications and Technical Specialist, HIV/AIDS and the World of Work Branch (ILOAIDS), +41 78 882 6118
Adam Bowers, Communications Officer, ILO Geneva, +41 22 799 6126