News / Africa

    South African Business Tackles HIV/AIDS

    HIV/AIDS is having a devastating impact on businesses in South Africa.  One out of four South Africans of working age is HIV-positive.  Anglo American, one of the world's largest diversified mining companies, recognized the toll HIV was taking on its employees and its business. In 2002, it introduced a comprehensive prevention program in the workplace, the first of its kind in South Africa.  

    The acting regional manager at Anglo American, Sydwell Sibiya, describes main elements of the company's HIV/AIDS program.

    "HIV and AIDS pose a threat to employees, families and the communities," says Sibiya.  "Our effort focuses on combating the spread of HIV and AIDS.  Also, by so doing, we are ensuring that people can live a healthy life."

    Sibiya says the company offers voluntary counseling and testing so employees can know their HIV status, and it runs awareness, education and prevention campaigns.  

    "When we talk about care, support, and treatment, we also make sure that proper care and treatment is there for our employees, those that especially are HIV-positive.  Free treatment to all employees and their dependents," says Sibiya.

    Prevention, Testing and Treatment

    Anglo American employs 100,000 people in South Africa.  It has the world's largest workplace program for the prevention, counseling, voluntary testing and treatment of HIV.

    The head of underground operations at Anglo Coal, John Standish-White, says about 16 percent of the workforce is HIV positive.  

    He says Anglo American has a medical center and offers employees and their dependents free nutritional supplements and anti-retroviral treatment.

    "We think there is a strong business case to be keeping people negative, as well as for the 16 percent of us who are positive, to be paying for those people to be actively on treatment and cared for ... we believe that makes good business sense as well," says Standish-White.

    Simon Ndiangamandia has been HIV positive for seven years and is on anti-retroviral therapy.  He looks fit and healthy and has a positive outlook on life.  He says he is not happy with his HIV status, but has learned to accept it and treat it like any other chronic illness.

    "I have made a major change in the people here in this place," says Ndiangamandia.  "I remember I was the first employee in the whole company to become public with my status and I did that just, mainly not just for myself only, but for the workforce of the company so that they can know that they can also live well."

    Ndiangamandia says he always tells his colleagues that anyone can get HIV.

    "And that is why people must keep on testing so that they can know if they are negative.  And, if they are negative, they must do themselves a favor and go and stay negative for life, not just for the whole year.  And, if they happen to be positive, they must not be sick and they must not die," said Ndiangamandia.

    Health Investment Is Good Business

    Anglo American Chief Medical Officer Brian Brink says in 2002 the company was confronted by an epidemic that seemed unmanageable and out of control.  He says investors were having second thoughts about putting money into a business that might not survive with that burden of disease.

    So, in a huge leap of faith, he says Anglo American decided to make AIDS drugs available to its employees.

    "We did not know exactly what it was going to cost overall," says Brink.  "We knew it was going to be a lot of money ...  actually the results have been dramatic, absolutely dramatic in terms of, first of all, in saving lives and making sure that people who did not have access to this treatment could get it. The cost of treatment is far outweighed by the benefits that we get back.  And, the benefits are, in particular, much reduced absenteeism due to HIV infections."

    Dr. Brink is on the board of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.  He says he is using this position to persuade employers that investing in health is good for business.  

    "When you come to developing countries and these are the emerging economies of the future and you see what can be achieved by these investments in health, it really is quite dramatic," says Brink.  "We certainly have shown in our business the economics of dealing with AIDS effectively.  You can turn around what was once for us a huge threat into something that is entirely manageable.  In fact, it has a very positive impact for out business.  It allows our business to thrive and to grow."

    Dr. Brink says a healthier population provides better opportunities for business.

    You May Like

    Escalation of Media Crackdown in Turkey Heightens Concerns

    Critics see 'a new dark age' as arrests of journalists, closures of media outlets by Erdogan government mount

    Russia Boasts of Troop Buildup on Flank, Draws Flak

    Russian military moves counter to efforts to de-escalate tensions, State Department says

    Video Iraqis Primed to March on Mosul, Foreign Minister Says

    Iraqi FM Ibrahim al-Jaafari tells VOA the campaign will meet optimistic expectations, even though US officials remain cautious

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Processi
    X
    Katherine Gypson
    July 27, 2016 6:21 PM
    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora