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Benefits Of HIV/AIDS Programs In Workplace Outweigh Costs

Armen Hareyan's picture

Companies can save money and retain more employees by implementingHIV/AIDS programs in the workplace, according to a report releasedTuesday by the International Organization for Migration, Reutersreports. The study examined data from seven of the largest coppermining and agricultural companies in Zambia, which each employ 350 to10,000 people (Nebehay, Reuters, 11/13).

According to an IOM release,the study calculated the costs of operating HIV workplace programs --including health care, peer education, counseling and testing, andstaff time spent on the program -- with the costs of HIV/AIDS to thecompany -- including employee turnover, training new staff, loss ofproductivity, absenteeism and funeral costs. The Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project, IOM and the National AIDS Council of Zambia conducted the study, which was funded by the groups and USAID (IOM release, 11/13).

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The report found workplace HIV/AIDS programs reduced employeeabsenteeism, turnover rates and loss of productivity, as well as helpedemployees handle discrimination and learn about prevention. Six of theseven companies showed net benefits for their HIV/AIDS programs,amounting to an average of $47 per employee in 2006, according to thereport. IOM spokesperson Jemini Pandya said that the "larger thecompany, the greater the benefits it derived," noting that the largestcompany with an HIV/AIDS program saved nearly $500,000 in what wouldhave been lost productivity.

According to IOM, the averagecompany spent nearly $9,000 per employee with HIV, including funeralexpenses and the costs of paying supervisors to train new employees.

HIV"had an enormous impact on all companies among all ranges of skills,"Pandya said, adding, "By implementing a range of HIV programs forstaff, the benefits far outweigh the costs, both human and financial."About 17% of adults in Zambia are HIV-positive, and many largeprivate-sector companies employ migrant workers who are at high risk ofHIV infection (Reuters, 11/13).

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 . The Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report ispublished for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser FamilyFoundation.