HIV and AIDS in the Workplace

HIV has devastating impacts on the labour force and consequently on socio-economic development due to lessened productivity. Labour intensive sectors such as agriculture, mining, construction, transport, the military and uniformed services are the most affected sectors in the country (UNAIDS, 2009), due to the combination of high numbers of migrants away from families and higher rates of disposable incomes. This has a parallel negative effect on the host community which may benefit from the larger numbers of laborers but who attract a sex trade which filters through to the whole community. Whilst some sectors have made good progress in scaling up access to the full range of HIV services to its personnel, HIV rates are particularly high within these groups.  This link between mobility, HIV prevalence and high-risk behaviour has been well documented (ZDHS, 2007).

Although the HIV pandemic is increasingly being addressed at the workplace, it is yet to be fully institutionalized. The JMTR 2013 noted that the number of organizations with HIV workplace policies had increased from 560 in 2010 to reach 1, 187 by 2012 but it was not clear how many people this had reached, nor whether it provided full access to the range of HIV high impact interventions.  Furthermore, most organizations developed their own internal policies without guidance by a national overarching HIV and AIDS and Wellness Workplace Policy.

The R-NASF is committed to ensuring that mainstreaming of HIV and AIDS into workplaces is guided by a national policy and expanded to reach workforces in the public and private sectors. Labour intensive sectors such as mines, agriculture, heavy construction and the road sector have been prioritized. The informal sector that promotes mobility such as cross-border trading markets, fishing areas, border towns and surrounding or host communities have also bene deliberately targeted with comprehensive HIV and AIDS information and mobile healthcare services such as HTC, STI, eMTCT, VMMC, TB and ART.