While South Africa’s health sector and government have made great strides in the fight against HIV and AIDS in recent years, it is important that South African businesses continue to prioritise this within their organisations, rather than becoming complacent.
Manpower South Africa’s MD, Lyndy van den Barselaar, says that companies can make a difference in the run up to World AIDS Day on 1 December.
“A report carried out by the United Nations earlier this year found that South Africa had made significant progress in the fight against the epidemic. The report found that South Africa reversed our decline in life expectancy by 10 years, rising from 51 years in 2005 to 61 years by the end of 2014,” explains van den Barselaar.
Further, the report found that HIV and AIDS related deaths in South Africa had declined by 58% since 2010. South Africa was listed in the group of countries that had reduced the number of new HIV infections by at least 20%, and of the 15-million people on HIV treatment globally, more than 3,4-million are in South Africa.
“While achievements such as this should most certainly be celebrated, they can often be accompanied by a sense of desensitisation, where the severity of the epidemic can be minimised in the minds of people,” says van den Barselaar, who warns that this can become dangerous.
She notes that businesses, large and small, have an important role to play in the country’s – and the world’s – fight against HIV and AIDS.
“Businesses need to ensure they are doing their part to tackle misconceptions about the disease, educating their employees on the disease, keeping up to date with new advances in the fight against the disease and most importantly providing support for those affected within their organisation,” she says.
“Education and research are the most powerful tool against any challenge, and have spurred the advances made thus far. Businesses need to set a positive example for their employees, partners and consumers, and leverage their expertise to contribute to this important fight and help in making a difference.”
She notes that local branches of global organisations, such as the ManpowerGroup, should encourage all branches globally to participate where possible in creating and supporting initiatives around this important global issue.
“All businesses, no matter what sector or industry they operate in, have a role to play in further advancing South Africa’s progress in the fight against HIV and AIDS. This World AIDS Day, Manpower South Africa encourages all businesses to get involved and make a difference, starting today,” says van den Barselaar.