The impact of the economic crisis on HIV/AIDS workplace programmes
S. Kisting, K. Dhanapala, M. Sundell, L.-N. Hsu
International Labour Organization, ILO/AIDS, Geneva, Switzerland
Background: In view of the 2010 goal for achieving universal access, a global survey was conducted by the International Labour Organization in 2009 focusing on the workplace, proven to be an effective entry point for HIV responses. This revealed that the economic crisis is undermining the capacity of workers' and employers' organizations to implement HIV programmes as a result of job losses, job insecurity, increased stigma and constrained resources. This has compromised gains in HIV prevention, diminished institutional capacity to mitigate the impact of HIV, and jeopardised the rights of workers and their families to access essential services.
Methods: The survey was a first attempt to assess the impact of the crisis on HIV responses in the workplace. A purposive survey of HIV and workplace programme specialists from 21 countries (12 in Africa, three in Europe, five in Latin America and the Caribbean and three in Asia) was conducted in 2009 during the peak of the economic crisis based on a standardized questionnaire.
Results: The survey identified differential impacts of the crisis on economic sectors in terms of HIV vulnerabilities, demonstrating a need for timely information on employment patterns and HIV services. Such information should be built into national support systems to enable improved targeting in order to achieve universal access and MDG targets.
Conclusions: Periodic surveys with government, employers and labour unions are necessary to monitor employment trends (including informalization, unsafe work, job downgrades) and assess their impact on workplace HIV programmes and the rights of workers. Social protection needs should also be monitored. Coordinated technical assistance can then be provided for livelihood support and social safety nets to mitigate the negative impacts of the economic crisis on people affected by HIV.
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