|The Business Response to HIV/AIDS: Innovation & Partnership (UNAIDS, 1997, 60 p.)|
|Examples of Company Actions on HIV/AIDS|
A. THE COMPANY
"Telecomunicacoes do Paraná S.A. TELEPAR" is a Brazilian telecommunications operator company founded in 1963 in Paraná State. The company's workforce is 70% male, with an average age of 34 years and an average of 14 years' employment with the company. By June 1997, TELEPAR had installed 1,088,774 accesses, and was posting annual revenues of more than US$ 480.4 million based on the results of the first quarter of 1997.
B. REASONS FOR ACTION ON HIV/AIDS
TELEPAR believes that control of the HIV/AIDS epidemic requires active involvement of different population segments, including people in their workplaces. The company has articulated three key reasons for establishing an HIV/AIDS/STD programme among its employees:
· The growth of the HIV/AIDS epidemic among men and women of economically active age
· Significant misconceptions and misinformation on the issues
· The value of the workplace as a location for establishing strategies to combat the epidemic (since adults spend most of their lives in this environment).
C. EXAMPLE ACTIONS
In 1989, TELEPAR created the STD and AIDS Prevention and Control Programme. In line with the companys principle of decentralisation, the coordinating group managing the programme is responsible for training volunteer employees to act as "multipliers" (people who pass on their knowledge to other employees). These volunteers have diverse roles, including providing up-to-date information, offering guidance and counselling on the need for serological testing, and running educational activities, in addition to giving support to infected workmates. They also work to dispel misconceptions about the disease and to challenge discrimination against the infected in the workplace. Long term in nature, the programme is targeted at two areas:
1. Education. The overall educational objective is to reduce the transmission of HIV. To this end, the programme's coordinators and multipliers have developed a variety of educational tools and resources that are characterised by simple, direct, clear and contemporary language. Methods include lectures, workshops, plays, films, e-mail networks, teleconferencing, short meetings and internal newspapers.
2. Assistance. TELEPAR's health and safety policies guarantee employees with HIV/AIDS the same rights as workers with any other disease. Specifically, the company gives these employees access to specialised community resources for treatment of opportunistic diseases resulting from impaired immunity. Employees do, however, have to pay a proportion of their treatment expenses, ranging from 20% to 80% depending on their salary level.
Since implementing the programme, TELEPAR has developed activities in partnership with government agencies at the federal, state and municipal level, and in addition with non-governmental organisations, to provide advice to other companies and develop community education for institutions such as day nurseries, churches and recreation clubs.
D. RESULTS TO DATE
In the past few years, TELEPAR has observed an increase in the number of employees who have asked to receive the blood test for HIV. The number of employees volunteering for the STD and AIDS Prevention and Control Programme has also risen. Employees who have AIDS or are seropositive continue to work if their health permits, and are being treated with greater respect by other workers. The programme developed in cooperation with the local community has permitted more appropriate distribution of tasks, thus better reaching all segments of the population.
Contact: Carolina Bocchi Maia, Work Nurse/ General
STD and AIDS Prevention and Control Programme
TELEPAR, Avenida Manoel Ribas, 115-2 andar
Curitiba, PR, Brazil, CEP 80510-900
Tel: 55 41 305 1898
Fax: 55 41 305 1896