Management and support of HIV positive employees in a private organization in EThekwini district, KwaZulu-Natal: a descriptive study.
Background: Since the beginning of the epidemic, more than 70 million people have been infected with HIV and about 35 million people have died of HIV. Globally, 36.7 million [30.8–42.9 million] people were living with HIV at the end of 2016. An estimated 0.8% [0.7- 0.9%] of adults aged 15–49 years worldwide are living with HIV, although the burden of the epidemic continues to vary considerably between countries and regions. Sub-Saharan Africa remains most severely affected, with nearly one in every 25 adults (4.2%) living with HIV and accounting for nearly two-thirds of the people living with HIV worldwide (World Health Organization, WHO 2017). HIV/AIDS affects millions of South Africans from all lifestyles, including people in the workplace. The impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic on the workplace increases each year. This is because people between the ages of 18 and 40 are the ones most affected by HIV/AIDS, and they make up over 50% of the nation’s workers. HIV-related absenteeism, loss of productivity, and the cost of replacing workers lost to AIDS threatens the survival of businesses and industrial sectors in the increasingly competitive global market (IOL Business Report, 2015). Purpose: The aim of this study was to explore the role played by management in supporting the HIV positive employees, particularly with regard to the implementation of HIV and AIDS workplace programmes (HAWPs) and Workplace wellness programmes (WWPs) in a private organisation in eThekwini District, KwaZulu Natal. Research Methodology: A quantitative approach with a descriptive exploratory research design was used in this study. Seventy permanent staff members participated in the study and data were collected from them using a self-administered questionnaire. Data were organised using the SSPS package, Version 23.0 and analysed statistically through descriptive statistics. Results: The findings of the study indicated that the participants appeared to be aware of the HIV/AIDS workplace programme, based on their familiarity with the voluntary testing and counselling, that is offered at the workplace. The majority of the respondents reported that an HIV/AIDS programme is relevant to them as well as to the organization. Recommendations: It was recommended that, when developing HIV/AIDS programmes for implementation, maximum participation by employees both infected and affected, senior management, HIV committees, Occupational Health and Safety practitioners, trade union shop stewards, HIV consultants, and behavioural scientists is encouraged. It is also recommended that the management should demonstrate a clear commitment to the HIV/AIDS management approach. It is critical for employees to see this commitment in a tangible form through non-discrimination and support for the people living with HIV/AIDS. An apparent and definite commitment will go far in developing shared trust between employers and employees and in facilitating an environment where people are willing to undergo HIV Counselling and Testing (HCT) and possibly disclose their status.