|The Business Response to HIV/AIDS: Innovation & Partnership (UNAIDS, 1997, 60 p.)|
|Examples of Company Actions on HIV/AIDS|
A. THE PARTNERSHIP
CARE is a US-based non-profit with 50 years' experience of relief and development work around the world. For many years, it received philanthropic donations from the corporate foundation of AIG, the New York-based parent company of the American International Assurances (AIA) insurance company in Thailand.
Early in the 1990s, AIA Thailand became concerned about the growing threat of HIV/AIDS to the employees of its policyholder companies. AIA Thailand's chief executive and medical adviser were impressed by CARE's success in educating rural youth on HIV/AIDS prevention and providing support to AIDS sufferers and their families. In 1994, they agreed to fund a programme of HIV/AIDS education for factory workers in Samut Prakarn, a region in central Thailand with high numbers of industrial workers. The company committed US$ 70,000 to a project to educate 100,000 workers in almost 200 factories over three years, with CARE as the service provider.
CARE's main contribution to the partnership was its established skill in communicating with ordinary people about the threat posed by HIV/AIDS. It uses an imaginative range of communications that holds people's attention much more powerfully than do simple public health announcements.
From the project's beginning in 1995, CARE ensured the involvement of other relevant agencies in the partnership, including the Provincial AIDS Prevention Committee and the Provincial Offices of Industry and Labour. It also built relationships with other NGOs such as the Planned Parenthood Association of Thailand and the Thailand Business Coalition on AIDS (see Profile 5). As the partnership developed, the Thailand Ministry of Public Health saw the benefits and offered financial support, committing approximately US$ 40,000 to match the private-sector funding.
B. REASONS FOR ACTION ON HIV/AIDS
The Samut Prakarn region has long been the country's major industrial province, with more than 600,000 industrial workers in over 4,000 factories. The majority are young, single migrants from the north, driven to leave home by rural poverty and the attraction of a steady income in the city. Away from family influences and with a relatively high disposable income, they have easy access to commercial sex workers and are at high risk of exposure to the disease. Labourers are thought to account for about 40% of Thailand's possible 400,000-500,000 HIV-positive population, almost double the 22% estimate for agricultural workers.
In addition, much of the early HIV/AIDS work in Thailand concentrated on the Bangkok region, and the industrial workers of Samut Prakarn have received little information or support.
C. EXAMPLE ACTIONS
The project aimed to create an AIDS information network for industrial factory workers that included worker participation in learning about AIDS and condom use and in volunteering as peer educators. To this end, the approach was to:
1. Use participatory rapid assessment techniques to map out factory workers' risk behaviours and to determine effective information channels.
2. Work with the Provincial Labour Office and the Ministry of Public Health to educate factory owners generally on the importance of AIDS prevention programmes for their employees.
3. Develop factory-based education programmes that include videotapes, exhibitions, and training to reduce risk behaviours.
4. Prepare cartoon booklets for factory employees on both preventing and living with AIDS.
5. Train peer-group volunteers to give information on preventing AIDS and relating to AIDS-infected persons in the workplace.
6. Set up an AIDS information centre offering person-to-person counselling or small-group discussions to employees.
7. Develop outreach programmes to contact workers in their living quarters.
To implement this approach, CARE had to persuade the factory owners of the project's value and bring them into the partnership. CARE ran one-day seminars for the owners, general managers and personnel managers of specific factories, to inform them about the HIV/AIDS threat and the measures the project planned to take. As a result, project staff were able to engage with the workers at their workplace.
D. RESULTS TO DATE
CARE undertook baseline studies of attitudes and practices, and then set up systems to monitor the incidence of STDs in the factories over the course of the project. These feedback mechanisms helped CARE and its partners measure the impact of the project.
The success of the core partnership of CARE (the service provider), AIA Thailand and the Ministry of Public Health (the funders) is in part due to the willingness of employers, local authorities and other NGOs in Samut Prakarn to contribute their resources and expertise.
Contact: Daniel Killpack
Director, Corporate Relations, CARE
151 Ellis Street NE,
Atlanta, GA 30303-2439
Tel: 1 404 681 2552 Ext 213
Fax: 1 404 577 6271