Industries needs to evolve workplace policy on HIV/AIDS: Experts

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Bangalore, Nov 3(UNI) India, which ranks third in the world, in highest prevalence of deadly disease HIV/AIDS, after South Africa and Nigeria, was estimated to suffer loss of over One per cent of its national GDP by 2015, according to a study of National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCEAR).

Speaking at a one-day state level workshop on HIV/AIDS - Vulnerability of Industry in Karnataka, organised jointly by FICCI, FKCCI and Bangalore Chamber of Industry and Commerce (BCIC) here today, Mr S M Afsar, Technical specialist HIV/AIDS, South Asia ILO said that India can not afford to delayed response to the problem.

He said that according to the World Economic Forum report 2004, Business and HIV/AIDS in Asia, the current impact of the disease on businesses in Asia stood at 30 per cent while India accounts for 46 per cent. The impact of the disease would be around 37 per cent in Asian firms in five years and 50 per cent in India, he added.

Quoting an ILO study in India on the impact of HIV/AIDS on Singreni Calories Company Limited (SCCL) in Andhra Pradesh, Mr Afsar said that the company had spent Rs 65 lakhs during last five years for payment as compensation to 29 employees who were declared as unfit to work due to the disease. The company has 311 employees living with HIV and if they all reach the stage of being unfit to work the company will have to pay Rs 933 lakhs. Provision of treatment (ART) to these employees for ten years would cost Rs 559 lakhs, he added.

Stating that truck drivers now no longer as the primary carriers of HIV/AIDS and the disease had started engulfing almost all sector that will contribute loss in industrial GDP. The area of concern where number of HIV/AIDS cases were being reportedly increasing are, Construction, Chemicals, Mining and Querying, Capital Goods, Textile, Tourism and Hospitality and even BPO segment of IT sector.

Exhorting the Industrialists to go for the adoption of Workplace policy to address the issue even if they don't have a single HIV infection at their units, Mr Afsar said that several companies have developed their response with ILO's assistance.

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