|The Business Response to HIV/AIDS: Innovation & Partnership (UNAIDS, 1997, 60 p.)|
|Examples of Company Actions on HIV/AIDS|
A. THE COMPANY
Founded in 1918 in the state of Sao Paulo, Villares manufactures specialty steel, elevators and escalators. It comprises six factories with about 8,000 employees and I 8,000 dependants.
B. REASONS FOR ACTION ON HIV/AIDS
Since 1943, Villares has provided health assistance to its employees and their dependants, and since 1991 has included HIV/AIDS work within its health system.
Villares believes that companies can play a major role in reducing the spread of HIV/AIDS, since they have significant capacity to mobilise their employees, and in turn their relatives, thus impacting the local community. The HIV/AIDS issue, which involves cultural, social, religious, family, legal, financial and institutional aspects, is too complex for the company to act effectively in isolation, however. Villares considers that shared actions and efforts with government will bring the greatest results.
C. EXAMPLE ACTIONS
The company initiated its "Programa Villares x AIDS" in 1991, expanding it in 1994 to the "Programa Villares x STD/AIDS" to take account of other sexually transmitted diseases. The programme aims to prevent the spread of HIV/STDs through information and education, by means of presentations, teamwork, taskforce training and printed materials. It also makes condoms available at below-market prices to all employees and their dependants.
For individuals who contract HIV and STDs, the programme seeks to make them aware of their responsibility to not spread the disease; participates in their treatment in partnership with government; helps create a supportive atmosphere in their workplaces; and maintains HIV-positive employees at work as long as possible The programme is based on the values of integrity and ethical behavior, mutual respect and trust, and respect for the human being, the company demonstrating this respect by upholding the individual's right to confidentiality and maintaining good working conditions.
A multidisciplinary taskforce comprising volunteer employees from medical, nursing, social welfare, training and communications areas is responsible for developing and managing the programme. The taskforce's activities were initially directed to employees and their dependants on a sporadic basis. In 1996, this was extended to participatory meetings, in the process adopting easily understandable terminology and more practical and comprehensive resources.
The programme has also maintained some activities in the outside community. Since AIDS is an issue concerning government, businesses and society, Villares has sought participation with the public sector. For example, the company has used social welfare resources to provide anti-retroviral therapy and also public schools as locations for periodic educational events. In return, Villares has covered the reproduction cost of technical papers written by public entities. In addition, the Villares programme aims to serve as an example to other companies in the community through sharing its experience and participating in corporate, government and institutional seminars and meetings.
D. RESULTS TO DATE
All plants have adopted educational measures directed towards their employees and dependants, as have agencies in nearby communities, predominantly public schools and labour unions. Initial programme results indicate a reduction in the index of new AIDS cases within Villares. The index gave 3.69 new cases per 10,000 people in 1995, declining to 2.54 in 1996, and on an annualised basis is predicted to be 2.14 for 1997.
Lessons learned during the first years of the "Programa Villares x STD/AIDS" have confirmed that behavioral changes are a long-term target. Persistence is key in systematically sharing information and education on HIV/AIDS prevention
Contact: Dr Sergio Candio
Manager, Villares Health System
Av. Interlagos 4455
Sao Paulo, SP
Tel: 55 11 247 9811/525 3775
Fax: 55 11 246 1238