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Health News of Wednesday, 25 August 2021

Source: GNA

Be guided by ILO’s HIV/AIDS workplace policy – Dr Ayisi Addo

Dr Ayisi Addo of NACP (fourth left) with participants of GNA stakeholder engagement at Tema Dr Ayisi Addo of NACP (fourth left) with participants of GNA stakeholder engagement at Tema

Dr Stephen Ayisi Addo, Programme Manager, National AIDS/STI Control Programme (NACP), has urged the management of establishments to be guided by the Internal Labour Organization’s code of practice on HIV/AIDS in formulating a HIV policy for their institutions.

He said a properly structured workplace policy based on the ILO’s code would serve as a guide in handling employees who might contract the virus.

Dr Ayisi Addo said this at the fifth Ghana News Agency stakeholder engagement at Tema.

The event provides a platform for state and non-state actors to address national issues and to recognize the editorial contribution of reporters towards national development.

Dr Ayisi Addo spoke on the topic: “Workplace policy on HIV/AIDS, who enforces it: Legal basis for churches demanding HIV/AIDS test from would-be partners? Role of partners of an infected individual.”

He said there were 10 key principles of the ILO Code of Practice on HIV and AIDS and the World of Work, starting with the acceptance that HIV/AIDS was a workplace issue as the workplace could play a vital role in limiting the spread and its effect.

He said the objective of the ILO code was to provide a set of guidelines to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the world of work and within the framework of the promotion of decent work.

It covers key areas of action including prevention of HIV/AIDS; management and mitigation of the impact of HIV/AIDS on the world of work; care and support of workers infected and affected by HIV/AIDS; elimination of stigma and discrimination based on real or perceived HIV status.

The other principles, he noted, include non-discrimination, explaining that there should be no discrimination or stigma against workers on the basis of their real or perceived HIV status as casual contact at the workplace did not carry any risk of infection.

Gender equality, he said, was also key and vital to the prevention of the spread of HIV infection.

Dr Ayisi Addo said among the ten principles was the creation of a healthy work environment, which should minimize occupational risk and be adapted to the health and capabilities of workers.

He indicated that a good HIV/AIDS policy, according to the ILO code, also needed the cooperation and trust of employers, workers, and governments through social dialogue, adding that there must be no HIV screening for purposes of employment.

“Testing for HIV at the workplace should be carried out as specified in the Code, should be voluntary and confidential, and never be used to screen job applicants or employees,” he said.

He noted that existing ILO instruments on confidentiality must be applied in respect of revealing personal data, which included a worker’s HIV status.

Dr Ayisi Addo stressed that it could only be disclosed to others in a health setting which was referred to as shared confidentiality. “If I am taking care of a patient and referring to another person, my colleague must know to provide the right medication this is for purpose of continuity of care.”

He said workers with HIV-related illnesses should work for as long as medically fit in good conditions and that they must benefit from affordable health services as well as statutory and occupational schemes.

Dr Ayisi Addo noted that social partners were in a unique position to promote HIV/AIDS prevention efforts through information, education and support for behaviour change.