Feature story

World AIDS Day at the International Labour Organization highlights world of work and HIV

02 December 2010

ILO human red ribbon which was illuminated as part of the Light for Rights global campaign. Credit: ILO

Preventing HIV and protecting human rights in the work place were the themes of the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) event on World AIDS Day. Staff members formed the traditional ILO human red ribbon which was illuminated as part of the Light for Rights global campaign.

Mr Guy Ryder, ILO Executive Director, Standards and Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work Sector, addressed the gathering of ILO staff as well as colleagues from other UN agencies, and civil society organizations. He asserted the determination of the ILO to keep the promise to stop the spread of HIV: “The new ILO Recommendation adopted in June 2010 is a significant step. HIV is central to the ILO’s Decent Work Programme.” 

The new ILO Recommendation adopted in June 2010 is a significant step. HIV is central to the ILO’s Decent Work Programme

Guy Ryder, ILO Executive Director, Standards and Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work Sector

Formulated with the aim of enhancing the contribution of the world of work to attaining universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support services, the recently adopted labour standard also contains provisions for anti-discrimination measures at all levels and stresses the importance of confidentiality and employment and income generation for people living with HIV. It is also intended to protect workers against unfair dismissal due to actual or perceived HIV status and mandatory HIV testing.

Dr Sophia K. Kisting, Director of ILO Programme on HIV and the World of Work read the award winning poem  ‘Shining with HIV’ written by Bolivian José Willan Montaño Ferrel, which conveyed a strong message on the dignity of having a job and decent working conditions. It was one of the three winning entries in the contest ‘Positive workers write!’, held jointly in Latin America by the ILO and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) .

Yann Siegenthaler of the UN system HIV Positive staff group (UN Plus) highlighted the need for adequate HIV policies and programmes at work and the difference they can make for people living with HIV.

The event also premiered two videos, “Loggers Learn about HIV/AIDS Prevention in Guyana” and “Business Women on Board with HIV/AIDS Message in Malawi.” Both videos include strong messages on the need to eliminate stigma and discrimination at work.