HIV/AIDS: Support for the provision of anti-retrovirals by employers to their workers

As Numsa sets about trying to demand that employers provide anti-retrovirals to their workforce, we provide you with some quotes from employers and consultants advising employers on "why Aids treatment makes economic sense".

From an economic perspective…

"What many businesses do not realise is that from an economic perspective it makes more sense for a company to intervene and provide Aids treatment for employees. When an employee dies, the company has to replace that person and re-skill him and this costs money," Clem Suntner, a strategist for Anglo American.

"During the last two years of life (full blown AIDS), (a single HIV positive) employee will experience a highly conservative minimum of 55 days sick leave and a 25% drop in productivity." (extracted from an 8-week series of articles that appeared in Business Report from May 6, 2003. www.icon.co.za/~cb2/Subs/NewsAidsBR.htm)

"The economic argument for treatment is simple; sick employees cost you money and treatment costs you less. If you allow an employee to traverse most of the disease cycle, and only initiate treatment when they are in the last 6 months of their life, then you have carried the cost of illness, and then you add on the price of treatment." (extracted from an 8-week series of articles that appeared in Business Report from May 6, 2003. www.icon.co.za/~cb2/Subs/NewsAidsBR.htm)

The principle of offering treatment across all skill levels is as important for equity as it is for sound business sense….

"The high returns from treating skilled workers, quickly offset the marginal losses that may occur in the treatment provision of the lower earning job categories. This cross subsidisation is primarily through the benefits gained from offering treatment to middle management level positions." (extracted from an 8-week series of articles that appeared in Business Report from May 6, 2003. www.icon.co.za/~cb2/Subs/NewsAidsBR.htm)

but they warn that introducing treatment is not as easy as it sounds:

"Companies need to act fast, whilst ensuring an HIV assistance programme that is paid for yet confidential, motivating employees to take up the benefit of voluntary counselling and testing." (extracted from an 8-week series of articles that appeared in Business Report from May 6, 2003. www.icon.co.za/~cb2/Subs/NewsAidsBR.htm)

"The more employees that come forward to determine their status, the more the company will save. The risk of HIV to the company can only be mitigated if treatment reaches a significant percentage of the company's HIV positive employees." (extracted from an 8-week series of articles that appeared in Business Report from May 6, 2003. www.icon.co.za/~cb2/Subs/NewsAidsBR.htm)

Intervention is expensive, and unless it successfully addresses HIV, is a dangerous liability, potentially doubling the costs of the epidemic to the business." (extracted from an 8-week series of articles that appeared in Business Report from May 6, 2003. www.icon.co.za/~cb2/Subs/NewsAidsBR.htm)

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