AIDS: everybody’s business
27 January 2006
AIDS affects business, employees, markets and productivity across the world. As business leaders meet in Davos this week for the World Economic Forum, many are turning their attention to the issue of the increasing impact of AIDS in the workplace.
A recent survey of business policy on AIDS, conducted by the Forum, has found that chief executives are becoming increasingly concerned about the impact of the epidemic on their companies. A growing number are willing to back their concerns with resources to scale up prevention and treatment programmes in the workplace. Nearly half of the almost 11,000 companies across 117 countries that responded to the questionnaire from the World Economic Forum expected AIDS to have a growing effect on their activities over the next five years.
“In recent years we have seen business become more aware of the threat posed by AIDS leading them to take a bigger role in acting against the disease,” said Ben Plumley, Director, Executive Office, UNAIDS. “The potential of the private sector’s contribution is immense and there is so much more it can still do to help. The findings of this report will really help us understand how we can engage more businesses in addressing the growing threat of HIV.”
Stigma and discrimination in the workplace is also highlighted in the report as a growing problem. Here, businesses can play an additional critical role -- by developing and implementing workplace policies to break down discrimination and support employees in accessing HIV treatment prevention services. Coalitions such as the Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS are helping companies meet these needs by bringing them together to share best practices.
High-profile campaigns – such as the new global brand ‘Product Red’ launched at the World Economic Forum on Thursday (26 January) are embracing marketing ideas o help show businesses ways to become more involved in the AIDS response. Product RED aims to engage the private sector in the fight against AIDS in Africa by channeling funds from the sale of RED products directly to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
A report of the survey “Business and HIV/AIDS: A healthier partnership” was published by the World Economic Forum on January 12 and is available on the web at: http://www.weforum.org/pdf/Initiatives/gbs2006_report.pdf