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Corporate Inc Awakening To Economic Impact Of HIV

nment programmes through company medical schemes.

Among the most challenging tasks faced by the companies has been framing a HIV/AIDS work policy in consensus with the workforce at all levels including trade unions and management, representatives from leading companies said.

Findings of a study on the Socio-Economic Impact of HIV/AIDS on Households, conducted by the National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER), highlights that "HIV infections reduce household incomes by as much as 10 percent, with the impact being especially severe on those engaged in agricultural labour."

"This is on account of job losses or leave of absence for people living with HIV/AIDS and their care-givers," said NCAER Director-General Suman K. Bery, presenting the study.

Two-thirds of households surveyed, and 77 percent of those in agriculture labour, suffered this loss of income.

In addition, unemployment among people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) increased to 9.8 percent from 3.6 between the time they were tested and surveyed.

HIV/AIDS also increases the workload on the elderly and girl children, said Bery.

HIV households spend 400 percent more than non-HIV households on medical expenses and have a lower per capita outlay on education.

The NCAER survey also shows that HIV households are higher borrowers than non-HIV ones, with 46 percent having taken a loan in the past one year. This is nearly twice the number of non-HIV households.

"HIV/AIDS can significantly detract from India's demographic dividend," warned Bery suggesting that companies need to find ways to persuade employees to reveal their HIV status.

This is possible if companies assure their employees that there will be no discrimination or loss of employment, are educated about the disease and work with vendors, suppliers and neighbouring communities to raise awareness about the disease, he said.

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