Successful Experiences Highlighted in the Adoption of HIV/AIDS Policies in the Workplace
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
SAN SALVADOR– The U.S. Government, through its Agency for International Development (USAID), and together with the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Labor and Social Services, the Salvadoran Social Security Institute (ISSS), and representatives from the private sector, inaugurated a forum today entitled, “Successful Experiences in the Adoption of HIV Policies in the Workplace.”
Since 2008, the USAID Program to Strengthen the Central American Response to HIV (PASCA) has supported the region in facing the challenges posed by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. In 2009, USAID carried out the first meetings with business leaders in El Salvador to raise awareness about the risks that HIV/AIDS presents to work productivity, and encourage them to adopt policies to raise awareness about the virus and prevent its spread. Thus, educational workshops were carried out with the businesses, and interested businesses later received assistance to develop their own HIV/AIDS policies.
By adopting the new policies, these businesses recognize that HIV is a workplace issue, in addition to demonstrating their commitment not only to HIV prevention but also to the reduction of stigma and discrimination against HIV-positive individuals, the promotion of gender equality, and the protection of human rights. They also promote care and support for affected workers and their families, as well as voluntary HIV-testing campaigns.
The participating businesses at this stage are: La Sociedad de Ahorro y Crédito Apoyo Integral, S.A.; Kimberly Clark of Central America; Operadora Logística Salvadoreña-Agroquímica Internacional (OPLS-AGRINTER); Almacenes Simán, S.A. de C.V.; and Inversiones Bonaventure, S.A. de C.V. (Hanesbrands Inc.), all of which received recognition today for their roles as pioneers in El Salvador in the adoption of HIV/AIDS policies.
HIV poses a threat to the workplace environment because it predominately affects the most productive segment of the population: people between 15 and 49 years of age. This creates a series of impacts, including: loss of family income; economic losses for the country due to a decrease in productivity; an increase in labor costs; and the loss of abilities and experience. For these reasons, USAID hopes to encourage more companies to become aware and join the fight against the virus.
“We know that the advantages of these HIV/AIDS policies and business programs are many: they increase the productivity of the beneficiaries; they increase the quality of human resources; they improve morale; they create positive effects in terms of personnel retention; they protect occupational safety and health; and they create equal opportunity employment,” said Caroll Vásquez, Acting Deputy Director of USAID, during the forum’s inauguration.
The forum was also presided over by the Minister of Work and Social Services, Victoria Marina de Avilés; the Director of the ISSS, Leonel Flores Sosa; the Coordinator of the National STI/HIV/AIDS Program, Isabel Nieto; and the Regional Director of USAID/PASCA, Lucía Merino.