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New Guidelines for HIV/AIDS Prevention, Treatment Program in African Workplace

During the 34th Annual Global Health Conference Meeting here today, Merck & Co. Inc. announced the release of the 'Blueprint for Business Action on HIV/AIDS .' The Blueprint is an innovative tool developed by a predominately African advisory board specifically for African businesses to aid them in developing and implementing a comprehensive workplace program response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Merck is making the tool available for free to businesses as part of the Company's response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

The Blueprint offers a step-by-step guide organized into seven modules, a specialized textbook providing additional details on how companies can implement an HIV/AIDS workplace program, and an economic impact software tool that conducts a cost/benefit analysis of an HIV/AIDS workplace program. The Blueprint is the first HIV/AIDS workplace guide to include a free economic modeling software package as part of a comprehensive approach aimed at influencing business to join the fight against HIV/AIDS.

'This blueprint provides modules for business of all sizes with clear, crisp and concise action points on HIV/AIDS programming,' said Emmanuel Alhassan, Special Advisor Public-Private Partnerships, Constella Futures Nigeria (working with the National Agency for the Control of AIDS in Nigeria).

Globally, the cumulative loss of labor force participants to HIV/AIDS reached 28 million in 2005. Without increased action across all segments of society, this figure could reach 48 million by 2010 and 74 million by 2015, 50 million of whom would be in Africa (ILO, 2004); yet, according to a 2003 UNAIDS study on the economic impact of HIV/AIDS in Southern Africa, a survey of companies with fewer than 100 workers showed that only 13 percent of the companies had a company policy in place to deal with HIV and AIDS.

'The future of African business, in the age of HIV/AIDS, will be bleak if employers do not immediately engage in tr eatment and prevention efforts,' said Dr. Neeraj Mistry, technical director at the Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria. 'African companies must establish and expand HIV/AIDS workplace programs for all of their employees and their families.'

The Blueprint was developed with the support of Merck for use by African companies of all sizes - small, medium and large. Available in French and English, the tool shows how prevention and treatment programs in the workplace make an important contribution to fighting the HIV/AIDS pandemic, while also being a sound business decision.

'Merck has been engaged in the fight against HIV/AIDS for two decades,' said Donald de Korte, director of HIV Access Programs for Merck in Africa. 'During that time, we have learned that HIV/AIDS prevention, care and treatment programs in the workplace for employees and their families can make a difference in combating the HIV/AIDS epidemic. We have supported the development of the Blueprint to help provide an easy-to-use roadmap for bringing prevention, care and treatment options to employees and their families.'

In developing the Blueprint for Business Action, Merck drew on its experiences in combating HIV/AIDS and its work with more than a dozen companies in Africa to develop sustainable and effective workplace programs. To ensure the tool reflected the true needs of African businesses, Merck assembled a predominantly African editorial team of HIV/AIDS experts to help develop and test the Blueprint.

Merck also drew on the experience and best practices of various stakeholders such as UNAIDS, the International Labor Organization, the World Bank, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and companies that have successfully initiated HIV/AIDS workplace programs.

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