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Indian Inc not proactive to HIV/AIDS threat: study

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Indian Inc not proactive to HIV/AIDS threat: study

New Delhi: India is among countries where a large number of

corporate bodies are still not very proactive vis-a-vis the threat

of HIV/AIDS, a new global study says.

The World Economic Forum's 2005 Global Health Initiative

(GHI) 'Business and HIV/AIDS' says in its report that just seven

percent of Indian companies expect any serious impact of HIV/AIDS on

their operations. Another 18 percent expect some impact while 80

percent do not expect any impact.

The study is based on the responses of over 10,000 firm executives

in 117 countries, including about 100 in India.

" Business is a powerful actor in all countries with serious HIV/AIDS

epidemics. The private sector as a whole is vulnerable to the

macroeconomic consequences of the epidemic, while individual

businesses face potentially serious impacts on their employees and

markets, " it says.

" However, as this report shows, with some exceptions the private

sector has yet to adopt a widespread leadership role in the response

to HIV/AIDS. "

India has more cases of HIV infections - estimated to be about 5.1

million - than any other country barring South Africa.

The report, authored by E. Bloom, professor of economics and

demography at the Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, had

survey inputs from The Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR).

" Although some businesses offer examples of best practice, many lack

the knowledge, will and capacity to respond effectively to the

epidemic, " it stated.

The study reveals that while some businesses have been successful in

actually assessing the risk of HIV/AIDS to their organisation and

then putting formal policies in place, most have not been serious in

the implementation.

" Unfortunately, many firms do one or the other of these steps,

rarely combining the two, which may be leading to weakened, or at

worst, ineffective HIV/AIDS policies, " said Bloom.

This assessment is true for Indian corporate bodies surveyed, with

27 percent expecting serious impact of HIV/AIDS in the next five

years and only 11 percent having a specific written policy to combat


About 31 percent reported having an informal policy while 52 percent

had no policy to face the expected challenge.

The report says that though " South Asian and Southeast Asian firms

report increasing concern over the effects of HIV/AIDS ... and a

relatively high proportion of respondent firms have policies to

combat the disease, there is a growing tendency towards informal

rather than formal responses " .

Of the 42 Indian of the total 2,221 companies surveyed worldwide, 76

percent in India claimed to have a prevention programme, while only

29 percent have provision for any voluntary testing against the

global average of 33 percent.

In 50 percent of cases there was no provision for voluntary testing,

45 percent had no condoms programme and 67 percent no treatment


What is more discouraging is that 74 percent of the Indian companies

revealed they had no anti-discrimination policy for protecting the

interests of HIV/AIDS infected workers.

On the positive side, 14 percent had an active policy to protect

workers, with 10 percent ensuring access to anti-retroviral

treatment, 19 percent to promotion of condom usage and 29 percent

providing voluntary testing facilities.

" The private sector is a vital part of any cross-cutting social

partnership against AIDS, " the report states, underlining

that " continued action is therefore needed to convince companies of

the role they can play in combating HIV/AIDS - and the rewards they

will garner by playing it " .

http://www.newkerala.com/news.php?action=fullnews & id=86740

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