South Africa’s AngloGold, the world’s largest gold producer, says twenty-five percent of its forty-four thousand employees are infected with HIV.
Chief Executive Officer Bobby Godsell says the company is taking a three-pronged approach to the problem: prevention awareness programs within the company and the community; medical care to help employees deal with opportunistic infections, such as tuberculosis; and research to find either a cure or a vaccine.
Currently, AngloGold does not offer the top-of-the-line AIDS medications known as anti-retrovirals. But Mr. Godsell says he believes they are extremely important and says the company will work with the government on possible drug programs.
AngloGold’s workers are encouraged to take an HIV test. If the results are positive, they are enrolled in the company’s wellness program. Mr. Godsell says absenteeism as a result of AIDS complications has risen from one to two percent. He says while that does not appear to be a large increase, the company is taking it very seriously.
The company says two approaches to AIDS in South Africa that have proven to be wrong are denying the magnitude of the disease and espousing apocalyptic predictions of disaster. Mr. Godsell says it is possible to wage a successful campaign against AIDS. He spoke to English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua. (Click the links above to listen to the interview)