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HIV in the workplace addressed by Ugandan Agriculture/Transport Sectors

Summary

To be effective, HIV education and services must go to where the people in need are. The ILO is present in workplaces and through its tripartite structure is working with employers and trade unions to implement the ILO Code of Practice on HIV/AIDS and the World of Work to reach at-risk migrant and mobile workers in the agricultural and transport sectors.

The ILO provides advisory services on policy development and workplace mobilisation, arranges training to develop the competencies and structures that sustain HIV awareness in the workplace, and supports the development of education materials addressing the HIV-related information needs and concerns of workers. These workplace interventions reduce stigma through policies, agreements and education to promote the principle of nondiscrimination and encourage a supportive work environment and open discussion of HIV issues. The ILO works with private enterprises to ensure the availability of free services such as voluntary counselling and testing, care to prevent the transmission of HIV from mother to child, and condom availability for workers and for members of the surrounding communities. As a result, workers in locations such as the Uganda tea and sugar plantations are increasingly accessing counselling and testing services and medical support and care, including antiretroviral therapy.

ILO efforts to increase private sector recognition of the impact of HIV have also led to the development of sustainable prevention and impact mitigation measures, such as staff recruitment and personnel practices that help to reduce HIV vulnerability. These include minimising family (spouse) separation by instituting flexible housing provisions that enable workers to live with spouses at the workplace; enabling families to seek appropriate housing in the vicinity of the estates; and targeting worker recruitment to nearby villages, rather than outsourcing casual employees from distant districts.