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Corporate Inc Awakening To Economic Impact Of HIV

Guided by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and industry lobbies, several hundred Indian companies have started affirmative action at workplace to prevent spread// of HIV infection and help those infected get a conducive work environment.

"Impact of HIV/AIDS is seen most in the most productive age between 15-48," said S. Mohammed Afsar, ILO national project coordinator for South Asia at a meet organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) here Wednesday.

CII through its Indian Business Trust for HIV/AIDS facilitates prevention, care and treatment programmes both within companies and in their neighbouring communities. Around 700 companies have so far signed their commitment to CII's HIV/AIDS policy for industry.

"HIV has impacted every sector. It is as much a problem of the white-collar worker as it is of blue-collar worker. Companies can have a very effective programme at a very low cost, if you start early," said Afsar.

ILO has so far formed 69 state level alliances in Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Goa.

In addition, alliances have been formed with eight corporate groups including Pepsi Co, Ballarpur Gujarat Ambuja Cement Ltd, SRF Group, Apollo Tyres, Transport Corporation of India Ltd, Crompton Greaves Ltd and Hindustan Lever Ltd.

"The group approach allows us to reach out to multi locations of a company. The alliance with the eight corporate groups has helped us to reach out to units in 115 locations," said Afsar.

Altogether this has helped to reach out HIV/AIDS programme to 101,682 workers including contractual employees.

Corporate houses generally undertake the projects at their own cost, with ILO, the NGOs working with the state-run National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) providing the training.

In the case of medicines (antiretroviral therapy) and condoms, the corporates are now striving to supplement efforts of various gover
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