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Indian Businesses Would Gain From Participating In Early Interventions To Prevent HIV

Armen Hareyan's picture

Private and public sector companies in India have much to gain byparticipating in early interventions aimed at preventing the spread ofHIV, according to a report released Wednesday by the World Bank, PTI/Times of Indiareports. "Even in countries with overall low HIV prevalence, such asIndia, the mere cost of treating people living with HIV and AIDS willbe a huge economic and social burden to society," the report said,adding, "Early decisive action by companies that reach a large share ofthe population at risk pays off." The report also noted that HIV/AIDShas a direct effect on a company's profits and productivity by causingabsenteeism and staff turnover, higher recruitment and training costs,and increased costs in medical care or insurance coverage andretirement funds.

A significant portion of India's work forceis vulnerable to HIV, with the disease primarily affecting young andmiddle-aged adults at the peak of their productive years, according tothe report (PTI/Times of India, 7/25). "Despite theimportant role that Indian businesses can play in the fight againstAIDS and in tackling stigma associated with AIDS among its work force,only a small share of the private sector -- around 70 companies -- areengaged in fighting HIV and AIDS," the report said.

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The reportcited five case studies as examples of approaches that private- andpublic-sector businesses in India have used to address HIV/AIDS in theworkplace. The companies cited in the studies include Reliance Industries, Transport Corporation of India, Delhi Metro Rail, DCM Shriram Consolidated and Hindustan Lever. According to Shanthi Divakaran -- World Bank HIV/AIDS coordinator for the South Asia Finance and Private Sectorunit and a report author -- the case studies "illustrate the importanceof integrating multiple stakeholders" in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Inaddition, she said the studies "highlight the growing investment ofbusinesses in that fight -- an investment that recognizes theirvulnerability to the economic and social impact of the epidemic. Andthey show that businesses are ready to demonstrate their socialresponsibility by tackling HIV and AIDS through their networks."


The heterogeneous nature of India's HIV/AIDS epidemic requires it to betackled through multiple strategies, the report said. However, allcompanies can play a role in the fight against the disease by reducingstigma; pursuing high-level advocacy efforts; drafting HIV guidelinesfor the workplace; and providing referrals for counseling and testing,the report said. Although the Indian government has revisedits HIV/AIDS caseload estimates since the report was written, the banksaid that there is no room for complacency in the fight against thedisease. According to the report, the sexual networks of some high-riskgroups are "known to be wide and interdigitated, with the potential tospread HIV among the wider community." It added that it is "clear thatthe widest participation of the government and society-at-large isessential to deal with the problem effectively" (Press Trust of India, 7/25).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view theentire Kaiser DailyHIV/AIDS Report, search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . TheKaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service ofThe Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.