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Firms urged to help control Aids: Incentives suggested for businesses


International organisations urged the business sector yesterday to make the HIV/Aids epidemic one of the "bottom line issues" at the workplace.

A one-day study programme, entitled "Thailand CEO study mission on HIV/Aids", was organised by Thailand Business Coalition on Aids (TBCA) to brief top management people about the HIV/Aids epidemic's impact on businesses and their employees.

It was attended by more than 25 CEOs and senior managers of leading firms in Thailand including Unocal, Nike, Siam Commercial Bank, Thai Airways International and the Tourism Authority of Thailand. The meeting was told that more than half of HIV-infected people were young adults and mostly came from a well-educated workforce.

According to the UNAIDS, 85% of global HIV carriers are in their most productive age (20-44 years) while in Thailand, 90% of HIV-positive people are in the labour force.

Gunnar Walzholz, a technical specialist from the International Labour Organisation, said Aids is already costing businesses heavily and these costs will continue to rise if firms do not respond quickly enough to the problems.

He claimed there were many ways for businesses to respond to such problems including staff training on HIV/Aids as well as a coherent non-discriminatory HIV/Aids workplace policy.

Anthony Pramualratana of the TBCA said at the moment there were higher risk behaviours among the younger Thai population and office workers than the rural population, indicating that something needed to be done.

"I did not ask for the Aids issue to be the firm's top priority but at least make it one of your issues," Mr Anthony said.

Sheila Macrae from the UNAIDS agreed that many firms may not see this as an immediate issue but she believed some Aids-awareness training for their staff would at least help to contain and prevent the spread of Aids.

However, some Thai participants believed that it was more difficult to make Thai people understand the HIV/Aids threat by simply educating workers at the company level.

Amphon Saay-op-oua, an initiator of the 9-year Aids training programme at the Grand Hyatt Erawan Hotel suggested that the government provide incentives in the form of tax reductions or awards to firms actively involved in HIV/Aids programmes.


Copyright © 2003 -Bangkok Post, Publisher. All rights reserved to The Bangkok Post. Reproduction of this article (other than one copy for personal reference) must be cleared through the Bangkok Post.

Information in this article was accurate in April 5, 2003. The state of the art may have changed since the publication date. This material is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between you and your doctor. Always discuss treatment options with a doctor who specializes in treating HIV.