The workplace might be the best place for employees to learn how to prevent HIV and AIDS, says a new Conference Board report.
Two-fifths of U.S. employers distribute information to workers about the risks of becoming infected with HIV—the human immunodeficiency virus, which causes AIDS. Nearly 90% of corporations worldwide conduct HIV and AIDS education.
While HIV/AIDS isn’t as common in North America as it is in Africa, Asia and Latin America, more U.S. businesses are offshoring their research and development efforts or opening branches in those regions. That means HIV/AIDS affects their turnover, attendance and productivity. Plus, employees who use intravenous drugs or engage in unprotected sex are at risk in every country.
Henry Silvert, a research associate and statistician who wrote The Conference Board report, advises HR staffs to create programs that educate employees in all of their locations. Other advice:
- Include HIV and AIDS counseling and referrals as part of your (EAP). The study reports that 67% of North American organizations already do this.
- Offer flexible work hours to employees who have chronic diseases. HIV-positive employees may have to take fatigue-inducing medications during work hours and could benefit from a split workday.
- Don’t ask if an employee is HIV-positive. You can run into privacy, ADA or anti-discrimination issues if you know.
- Seek support from senior for a program that addresses HIV in the workplace. Silvert interviewed one HR manager whose organization provided employees with education and training, but once the CEO got involved, it added on-site treatment.