NEW YORK, April 10 /PRNewswire/ -- Major companies are
creating a wide variety of programs to help employees deal with the global
HIV/AIDS epidemic, according to a report released today by The
Conference Board, the global business research and membership organization.
The report finds that 82 percent of the 134 major firms
surveyed have HIV/AIDS programs aimed at helping employees already
suffering from the disease or at risk of infection. The study is based on a
survey of 134 leading health-benefits and HR executives, as well as
in-depth interviews with directors of company HIV/AIDS programs and attorneys
specializing in disability and HIV/AIDS law. The study builds on a 1997
report on the corporate response to this dilemma. It also draws on the
experiences of companies whose operations in sub-Saharan Africa and other
high-prevalence regions have put them on the disease's front lines.
More than two-thirds of the surveyed companies have been
affected by HIV/AIDS, with one-fifth of these firms anticipating a
growing impact of this epidemic over the next three years. Sub-Saharan
Africa accounted for 67 percent of all adults and children suffering from HIV
last year. The disease has yet to peak in most of southern Africa.
Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe/Central Asia are
high-risk regions. Asia accounted for 14.5 percent of global HIV
cases in 2007, and a 23.1 percent rise in the rate of the newly infected
between 2001 and 2007. Latin America accounted for 4.8 percent of all cases and a
23.1 percent increase in new infections. Eastern Europe/Central Asia
accounted for 4.8 percent of all cases, and a 34 percent hike in new
A Worldwide Dilemma
Worldwide, the number of people living with HIV rose from
29 million in 2001 to 33.2 million in 2007. Forty percent of new cases
are among individuals 15 to 24, the age at which employees are just
entering the workforce and will require ever greater medical care
throughout their working lives. Companies feel the impact of HIV/AIDS in
many ways. Fewer skilled workers and managers, greater absenteeism and
turnover, and higher healthcare and insurance costs can reduce productivity and
"While there is no cure, medical advances have made it
possible for people with the disease to live longer, achieve better
quality of life, and be more productive, both at home and in the workplace,"
said Henry Silvert, Research Associate at The Conference Board and author of
the report. "In response to this new reality, and faced with an expected
growth of new infections, more companies have been stepping up efforts
to provide programs that effectively meet the needs of their
employees living with the disease, or the risk of infection."
In 1997, The Conference Board published its first report
on the corporate response to HIV/AIDS. Ten years later, HIV/AIDS
in the Workplace examines the current state of company programs around the
world. The report examines trends, best practices, benefits and challenges
that executives have faced in their efforts to tackle the HIV/AIDS needs
of their employees.
Some key findings:
-- Few firms have totally escaped the impact of HIV/AIDS.
Over two-thirds of respondents' company operations have been
affected by HIV/AIDS. One-fifth expect more impact from HIV/AIDS
over the next three years.
-- More than 90 percent of firms plan to maintain or
increase their spending on HIV/AIDS over the coming years. Firms
with operations in high-prevalence sub-Saharan Africa lead in
planned spending increases.
-- North America and Western/Central Europe account for
3.9 percent and 2.3 percent of all HIV cases, respectively, and
experienced flat rates of new infections between 2001 and 2007.
-- Regardless of location, respondents identified the
following non-financial concerns as the top motivators for
investing in HIV/AIDS related programs: social responsibility;
creating and sustaining an
inclusive environment for all employees; welfare of
employees living with HIV/AIDS.
-- Three-quarters of firms report some type of gain from
their programs. Top gains include increased awareness of the risk
factors associated with HIV/AIDS, decreased fears of becoming
infected, increased worker morale, increased motivation and
commitment, and decreased absenteeism.
-- Corporate initiatives vary from education and
prevention to counseling and treatment, depending on company
priorities, industry and location. Companies in sub-Saharan
Africa are most likely to offer on-site treatment.
-- Employee assistance programs were the top overall
initiative in both the 1997 and 2007 surveys. Among companies
with HIV/AIDS programs, education and training programs, resource
and referral services, and HIV/AIDS counseling were the top
-- Common hurdles include a lack of funds or personnel, an
obstructive corporate culture that fosters resistance, and
difficulty guaranteeing privacy and freedom from discrimination.
-- Support from top management is vital in encouraging
buy-in from across the organization, along with disciplined
follow-through and accountability.
Source: HIV/AIDS in the Workplace
Research Report No. 1423, The Conference Board
The Conference Board
The Conference Board creates and disseminates knowledge
about management and the marketplace to help businesses
strengthen their performance and better serve society. Working as a global
independent membership organization in the public interest, The
Conference Board conducts conferences, makes forecasts and assesses trends,
publishes information and analysis, and brings executives together
to learn from one another. The Conference Board is a not-for-profit
organization and holds 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status in the United States. Visit
The Conference Board's website -- http://www.conference-board.org
SOURCE The Conference Board