Businesses In Fiji Should Increase Efforts To Fight HIV/AIDS

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Businesses in Fiji should respond to HIV/AIDS and increase their efforts to fight the disease, delegates attending the Fiji-Australia Business Council Forum said on Monday, the Fiji Times reports. Australia's AIDS ambassador Murray Proctor at the conference said HIV/AIDS demands a response from businesses because it affects absenteeism, staffing and training.

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According to Proctor, HIV/AIDS also "undermines the prosperity and coherence of the communities in which our businesses operate." If the HIV/AIDS situation worsens, there will be an economic snowballing effect "as fewer goods and services are purchased, markets weaken and AIDS takes the economy" into a "downward spiral," Proctor said (Marau, Fiji Times, 12/4).

Steven Vete of UNAIDS at the conference said the most effective way to prevent the spread of HIV is to protect the basic human rights of marginalized groups. "The challenge is to work in partnership to improve the quality of life of your staff and their families and help to develop a program for Pacific small and medium enterprises," Vete said.

According to Vete, human rights include access to food; shelter; clean running water; health care; and dignity regardless of race, gender and sexual orientation. Vete said that ways employers can help fight the spread of HIV include inviting HIV-positive people to speak with their workers, encouraging testing and sponsoring community outreach programs. "Doing something about [HIV/AIDS] will save lives as well as money," Vete said (Fiji Times, 12/4).

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