News / Health

    HIV/AIDS Pose Risks for Small Businesses in South Africa

    25-year-old South African, Lawrence Jet who is HIV-positive lies on his bed (file photo)
    25-year-old South African, Lawrence Jet who is HIV-positive lies on his bed (file photo)

    The cost of preventing and treating AIDS in the workplace can be prohibitively expensive, especially for small and medium-sized businesses.  At the same time, the cost of doing nothing can be even more expensive.  Redpeg is a private organization that designs comprehensive HIV/AIDS programs for small and medium-sized businesses.  

    A survey of more than 1,000 companies in South Africa shows almost 33 percent were negatively affected by HIV/AIDS.  The survey by the Bureau for Economic Research also finds a further 43 percent expect their operations and profits to be adversely affected within five years.  

    This comes as no surprise to Redpeg.  Tracy Jeanpierre, the organization's Global Fund Manager for HIV World Place Program, says too many companies take a gunshot approach to HIV/AIDS.

    No follow-ups

    For example, she notes small businesses will offer training in volunteer counseling and testing to employees on World AIDS Day and then not follow up on the program.  

    "So, what we do is we work with workplaces to help them understand what prevalence is within the workplace and how that is likely to impact functioning of their business," she explained.  "And, then we help them to develop strategies to mitigate that impact."  

    Redpeg has trained more than 180 organizations on how to manage HIV/AIDS in the workplace.   These programs are funded by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria through the Department of Health in South Africa.

    Six years ago, the group began working with Air Liquide South Africa, a company that supplies industrial gases for different applications.  

    Jeanpierre says at first employees knew little about prevention and the link between HIV and sexually transmitted disease.  But, after Redpeg began its training programs, she says, levels of knowledge increased dramatically.

    "So, people now understand, for example, you do not just use a condom once, you have to use a condom consistently and you have to use a condom with all partners if you do have multiple partners," Jeanpierre said.    

    Keep the momentum going

    Air Liquide employs about 600 staff, largely composed of professional and skilled workers.  Human Resources Director, Derek Wilson, says the company is committed to retaining a stable workforce.  He says a successful HIV/AIDS program is critical to achieving that goal.

    "I think we are having a mutual benefit in that we have healthy employees working for an organization who can add value and can be developed because we take an individual in terms of training," he said. "And, if we did not put anything into place and you are developing people and they are dying, you know you cannot grow and expand your business."  

    Stigma attached to disease

    Occupational Health Practitioner at Air Liquide, Joyce Marshall, says people are willing to talk openly about their HIV-status in the clinic.  But, she says they are unwilling to make their status publicly known because of the stigma attached to this sexually transmitted disease.  And, this makes it difficult to contain the HIV/AIDS epidemic.  

    She says counseling and testing are available to all employees.  And, she says those who are HIV-positive get free anti-retroviral treatment.

    "This is actually, ultimately where change is happening in our society," she noted.  "People who previously would have died of full-blown AIDS are getting onto ARVs [anti-retrovirals] and their neighbors see them come from skin and bone back to normal health.  And, so what is happening on the ground is a word of mouth spreading of the good news that you do not have to die from HIV.

    Redpeg says small companies will not survive if they do not look after their skilled people and if there is not a parallel strategy to train new people. Given the scope of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in South Africa, the organization says companies without a viable response to HIV in the workplace are likely to go under.

    You May Like

    Vietnam Mulls Tough Measures for ‘Misbehaving’ Chinese Tourists

    Move comes after footage surfaced online of Chinese travelers harassing a banana hawker in Da Nang

    Pakistan Social Media Star's Honor Killing Fuels Debate

    Qandeel Baloch's murder puts spotlight on deadly tradition and other mistreatment of women

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Borderi
    X
    July 22, 2016 12:30 AM
    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.
    Video

    Video Number of Syrian Refugees Arriving in US Jumps

    The United States is committed to resettling 85,000 refugees from around the world by October. Of that number, 10,000 will come from Syria and already some 4,000 Syrian refugees have arrived in the United States, many of them settling in the state of Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from Chicago, their arrival is not the end of a difficult journey to find peace and stability.
    Video

    Video Rio’s Trams Await Olympic Tourists

    Over the past century, many cities around the world replaced electric trams, prone to breakdowns and backups, with faster and more spacious buses. But for some reason restored antique trams are a huge tourist attraction. So it’s no wonder the authorities in Rio de Janeiro are busy restoring their city’s old tram line ahead of the Summer Olympic Games. VOA’ George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora