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Uniting Food, Farm and Hotel Workers World-Wide

New ILO Report on the Impact of HIV/AIDS on Workers

Posted to the IUF website 14-Jul-2004

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In connection with the international AIDS Conference taking place in Bangkok, the ILO has released the first comprehensive study of the impact of AIDS on workers and the workplace. According to the report, 26 million of the estimated 35.7 million persons currently infected with the virus are workers. By next year, the epidemic will have eliminated from the global work force some 28 million workers. In the absence of improved access to medical treatment, this number will increase to 48 million by 2010 and 74 million by 2015. AIDS not only strikes at workers through illness and death. In poor countries, workers - primarily women - are often forced to abandon active employment due to care duties. The impact is particularly devastating in countries (e.g. most of Africa) where women are primarily responsible for subsistence farming. The epidemic is thus seriously undermining food security. According to a 2003 FAO study, some 7 million African agricultural workers had already been killed by AIDS, with an additional 16 million deaths anticipated in the next two decades.

The report also gives important data on the specific economic and social impact of HIV/AIDS on children as future wage earners.

IUF policy encourages affiliates to be actively involved in HIV/AIDS prevention programs and campaigns for provision of essential drugs at local, affordable prices. The secretariat stresses the importance of HIV/AIDS in collective bargaining and other appropriate fora with employers to ensure adequate training and preventive measures and no discrimination against those infected with the virus. Affiliates are also encouraged to promote the ILO Code of Practice on HIV/AIDS in the workplace. Together with the sectoral division of the ILO, the secretariat is developing a program to promote and evaluate implementation of the Code in the HRCT and agricultural sectors.

"HIV/AIDS and work: global estimates, impact and response" is available on the ILO website (in English) by clicking here.