Are your employees clued-up about HIV/AIDS?

Studies show that a significant portion of the country's workforce is HIV-positive. This is a scary thought when you think about how vital your employees are to your business. That said, today an HIV-positive diagnosis is no longer a death sentence, with medical advancements and healthy lifestyles enabling individuals to live long, fulfilling lives. As an employer, there's a lot you can do to make sure your HIV-positive employees are not only healthy and productive, but stay motivated by your concern for their (and their families') health and wellbeing.

An HIV/AIDS workplace programme will benefit both you and your business, but you may not have the time or the budget for a large-scale plan of action. There are many ways you can assist your employees without using up valuable time or breaking the bank.

Vital information

One way to ensure the wellbeing of all your employees, HIV-positive or not, is to make sure they have the right information regarding HIV and AIDS. There are a number of resources you can use (or make available to your employees), most of which are free of charge:

  • For information booklets you can distribute to your employees, contact the Red Ribbon Resource Centre (RRRC) on 011 880 0405. You can also fax the RRRC team at 011 880 8552.
  • There is a 24 hour AIDS helpline available for anyone in South Africa with queries regarding HIV. Provide your employees with the toll-free number, 0800 012 322 for information and advice from trained professionals with experience in the area of HIV. They will also be able to point you to clinics in the area that do free testing, counselling and treatment.
  • Many government hospitals and clinics provide free HIV testing and counselling. With follow-up visits, an HIV-positive employee can monitor his disease and gain access to free antiretrovirals (ARVs) when it becomes necessary.
  • Keep your 'neighbours' in mind. As an SME, you don't have to face the problem alone. Partner with other local businesses in your area to pool resources, share information and to learn from each other's experiences.

Other online resources:

Whether we like to admit it or not, HIV/AIDS is a reality and may be a genuine threat to the long-term sustainability of your business if your employees are not adequately informed about how to deal with a positive diagnosis. Arm yourself with information and empower your employees to get the help they need.

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