As part of an initiative to ascertain the HIV status of workers and their families, the International Labour Organisation is reaching out to workers in sectors as diverse as beauty salons, farming, trucking, mining, and entertainment, as well as the informal sector in 18 countries, ranging from Ukraine to Uganda.
A statement by the Director General of ILO, Guy Ryder said the organisation is working with a wide range of partners, including governments, trade unions and employers to carry out the highly successful VCT@WORK (voluntary counselling and testing at work) initiative.
He said the programme is seen as an important part of global efforts to reduce gaps in HIV testing and treatment for meeting the goal of ending AIDS by 2030.
According to him, since the initiative was launched in 2013 – by the ILO, UNAIDS, the International Organisation of Employers (IOE) and the International Trade Unions Confederation (ITUC), over 4.1 million workers and family members were counselled and took the HIV test.
The DG further disclosed that over 103,000 who tested positive were referred to access antiretroviral treatment.
“Men have not been reached effectively in the AIDS response. VCT@WORK is an important step to change that: under this programme, nearly 70 per cent of men took the HIV test – compared to 30 per cent of women. This clearly shows that the workplace is key to effectively expanding HIV services to those who are not adequately covered.”
“One of the lead companies engaged in the initiative is Coal India Limited (CIL), the largest public sector coal company in India, with 314,000 employees and a large number of contractual workers. A total of 29,580 employees and their dependants accessed HIV counselling and testing. All 141 who tested positive for HIV have been put on anti-retroviral treatment by the company.
“The VCT@WORK initiative is a great innovation to reach people with HIV services at work, widening access to HIV testing for people at a time and place convenient for them.”
VCT@WORK is being implemented in Cambodia, Cameroon, China, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, Russia Federation, South Africa, Tanzania, Ukraine and Zimbabwe.