An assessment of the impact of HIV/AIDS on the business sector in South Africa and an analysis of HIV/AIDS workplace programmes.
HIV / AIDS in the South African present context remains fraught with obstacles and challenges. The previous regime's willingness to turn a blind eye to the problem, combined with the present government's confused response has accelerated the disease and it's devastating impact to pandemic proportions. This has placed additional pressure on other sectors to respond. While civil society challenges government's delaying tactics and seeks to ease the plight of those living with HIV, the business sector is being called upon to act, in the interests of the stability of the national economy and it's own survival. Business is identified, locally and abroad, as the most relevant environment for intervention because of it's unique capacity to impact on both the workforce and the consumer market simultaneously. Business however exists for the purpose of making a profit. This is in itself an area of study that requires investigation: how does business meet the pressure to 'do the right thing' and protect its own best interests? This study will consider how some businesses have shifted the burden of AIDS, while others have prepared to meet the costs associated with implementing any interventions. The primary objective of this study is to investigate the impact of HIV / AIDS on the business sector with an assessment of the risk faced by business in the immediate and long-term. It further seeks to analyse business's current response in the context of international best practice standards. Case studies of Workplace HIV / AIDS Programmes are used to identify and analyse successful interventions that may be utilised in the South African context. While there are a few outstanding examples of workplace interventions being implemented in South Africa, there is some concern that too many companies are processing HIV / AIDS as a paper exercise without the commitment and care required for change. The impact of the disease on a physical level is compounded by stigmatization and fear. Issues of discrimination and intolerance permeate the environment in which employers are required to implement programmes that shift knowledge, attitudes and behaviour around HIV / AIDS. The secondary objective of this study is to test the emerging hypothesis that the face-to-face or one-on-one intervention is the most effective in successfully changing knowledge and attitudes about HIV / AIDS and can therefore influence a long-term change in behaviour. This study seeks to provide guidelines and recommendation for companies willing to implement HIV / AIDS workplace interventions by presenting an overview of the options available and indicating where best to invest limited resources. While the nature and scope of the study is by no means conclusive and remains open to ongoing social and medical research, it remains relevant in that it is placed in the context of timeless best practice.