Business and the AIDS response
22 January 2008
UNAIDS works closely with the private sector and recognises the significant contribution the business community makes to the global response to the AIDS epidemic. This week, world business leaders will come together at the World Economic Forum in Davos to discuss global priorities for 2008––including the business community’s contribution to the AIDS response.
In every region of the world, today’s most successful businesses are an integral part of the societies around them and more and more private sector leaders are recognising that the well being and security of the communities they serve are essential to their shared futures.
AIDS has had a profound impact on the business community. The global labour force has lost 28 million people to AIDS––which in the most affected countries has taken a direct toll on markets, investments, services and education.
Unlike most other health crises, HIV largely strikes people of working age, around nine out of ten people living with HIV today are in their most productive years.
AIDS reduces the supply of labour, increasing operational costs, reducing productivity, slowing economic growth and threatening the livelihoods of both workers and employers.
But businesses are fighting back. With the realisation that the workplace is one of the most effective environments to promote AIDS awareness and support people living with HIV, businesses around the world are investing in the AIDS response.
“The business community understands that their reach, expertise, skills and resources can make a real difference to the AIDS response––helping to keep both their workforce and their businesses healthy,” said Dr Peter Piot, Executive Director of UNAIDS.
More and more businesses are introducing HIV prevention programmes to educate their staff about HIV. These vital programmes are giving employees the tools they need to protect themselves and their families from HIV.
Studies show that two out of three people living with HIV go to work, and for many the fear of losing their jobs or being shunned by colleagues prevents them from disclosing their HIV status––denying them access to vital treatment and support services. HIV programmes introduced into the workplace are playing an important role in reducing stigma around the disease and supporting people in accessing essential HIV services.
The business community are also looking outside their own walls to make a difference. Companies are using their knowledge and expertise, resources and networks to build capacity in the AIDS response, promote behavioural change, mobilise private and public funds and share best practices.
The role of the business community is proving central to the response to the epidemic and UNAIDS will continue to work with business of all sizes and sectors to further strengthen the AIDS response.
UNAIDS is currently working with partners from the travel & tourism, telecommunication, sports, mines, PR/advertisement, finance, media, pharmaceuticals, oil & petroleum and automobile industries. UNAIDS also works closely with over 30 regional and national business coalitions.
Read more about UNAIDS and private sector partnerships