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close this bookThe Business Response to HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS, 2000, 79 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
Open this folder and view contents1. Addressing core business operations
Open this folder and view contents2. Business partners: A multiple stakeholder response
View the document3. Community involvement
View the document4. Advocacy and leadership
View the document5. Lessons from the business response to HIV/AIDS


Businesses are being subjected to the pressures of increasingly competitive national and global markets through globalisation and liberalisation of economies, combined with demands from investors and consumers for increased productivity, efficiency, innovation and quality of products and services. In addition, pressures are mounting for businesses to be more responsible and accountable to their wider stakeholders - workforces, suppliers, communities, governments and the general public.

Given this scenario and the known impact that HIV/AIDS has on business and its stakeholders, there is a clear requirement for business to respond. The challenge is clear, the response has been diverse, with a particular emphasis in the early stages of action on addressing and safeguarding core business activities through the protection and support of their own workforces. Increasingly, as businesses have become aware of the significance of other stakeholders in influencing the impact of HIV/AIDS on their ability to operate, they have begun to extend their responses to assist and collaborate in wider prevention and education initiatives.

The motives have been both philanthropic and business focused and the scope has been local, national and international. A well-known but useful example is Levi Strauss & Co, which in 1982 developed an employee and community HIV/AIDS awareness initiative in San Francisco, USA. A few years later Levi Strauss & Co undertook to include HIV/AIDS education and care as an investment focus, further extending the reach. This culminated in 1998 in the development of an education video, in association with UNAIDS, which has been made available to other companies and community organisations worldwide.

Actual responses will depend on numerous factors, in particular, the financial and human resource capacities of businesses. Clearly, larger companies have been able to undertake more extensive and wider-reaching actions. It is more difficult for small and medium sized firms who lack such resources, though they are often able to be more innovative and experimental. The changing structure of the global systems of production and trade towards specialisation, contracting and subcontracting has produced increasingly closer links between large and small businesses. This has led to a greater need and opportunity for collaboration between the two sectors in addressing HIV/AIDS.

Responses to HIV/AIDS by business have shown that their actions and influence can extend into a number of broad areas, as follows: