Meeting the challenges of HIV and AIDS workplace policies & programmes in companies with educated workforce

Article | 01 August 2008


India - August 2008

Issues

“HIV is a problem of truck drivers/ sex workers… or blue collar workers. Our workforce is educated. Why should we do an HIV and AIDS programme?”

Corporations shared this perception during the advocacy sessions organized under the HIV/AIDS workplace project of the International Labour Organization (ILO) in India.

Description

The ILO project suggested baseline surveys of Knowledge, Attitude, Behaviour and Practices to all 10 corporate partners, and provided its technical support. The comparison of findings for two enterprises with educated workforce for some key indicators are as below:

Indicators

A*

B**

Heard about HIV/AIDS

97%

86.4%

Incorrect knowledge of HIV transmission routes

26%

44.2%

Percentage of condom usage amongst those reporting casual sex

50%

30%

Believe HIV can spread by sharing meals with HIV positive worker

26%

21%

Believe mosquitoes can spread HIV

38%

35.4%

*A: a food and beverages MNC

**B: a paper manufacturing Indian company

Survey findings were presented to management. They were convinced and the intervention began. They nominated a focal person for HIV/AIDS, set up an internal HIV and AIDS Committee to develop a policy and a workplan that was implemented through their peer educators trained by the ILO. Company A covered 5,600 employees in 39 locations and company B covered 11,000 workers in its seven locations. Companies allocated budget and HIV and AIDS became part of existing programmes: of the Human Resource Department (HRD) in Company A and of the Corporate Social Responsibility Unit in Company B.

Lessons learned

  • Companies with educated workforce need a structured workplace programme as awareness may be high but there are gaps in knowledge and attitude, and high risk behaviours persist; and
  • Engagement of HRD helps in institutionalizing the programme.

Next steps

Enterprises are scaling up to reach their supply chain and communities. The ILO is using the evidence gathered for advocacy with similar corporations.

Divya Verma, HIV and AIDS Programme Officer, HIV/AIDS in the World of Work Project, India, ILO, divya@ilo.org