The country’s business leaders are being urged to assist the process to eradicate the stigma and discrimination against persons living with HIV and AIDS in the workplace.
“We all have an extraordinary duty to ensure that the rights of persons living with and affected by HIV and AIDS are respected and protected,” said Chairman of the Jamaica Business Council on HIV/AIDS (JaBCHA), Earl Moore.
“This pandemic concerns all people without distinction and the involvement of all sectors in society and all persons is very critical to prevent new cases and to deal with HIV/AIDS,” he added.
Mr. Moore was speaking at the HIV/AIDS Leadership Advocacy in the Workplace award breakfast held at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel in Kingston this morning (July 28), where four business sector organisations, including JaBCHA, were recognised by the National HIV/STI Programme for outstanding contribution to the adoption of HIV/AIDS workplace policies in the private sector.
The others were: Jamaica Manufacturers’ Association (JMA), Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) and Jamaica Employers’ Federation (JEF).
Mr. Moore pointed out that leadership in the public and private sectors is a fundamental requirement for an effective response to HIV/AIDS, and commended the recipients for the role they have been playing over the years in aiding the development of policies and programmes.
President, Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ), Joseph Matalon (right), greets author, Rosemarie Stone, at the HIV/AIDS Leadership Advocacy in the Workplace awards breakfast, held at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in Kingston, today (July 28). During the awards ceremony, four business organisations were recognised by the National HIV/STI Programme for outstanding contribution to the adoption of HIV/AIDS workplace policies in the private sector. The recipients were: Jamaica Employers’ Federation (JEF), Jamaica Business Council on HIV/AIDS (JaBCHA), Jamaica Manufacturers’ Association (JMA) and the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ).
Chief Executive Officer of the Jamaica Employers’ Federation (JEF), Brenda Cuthbert, urged all companies to develop and implement HIV workplace policies, noting that this will provide protection for staff and business.
“It also signals your respect for human rights and dignity by ensuring that all persons, who are able and capable, have an opportunity to work despite their HIV status,” she noted.
Director of Prevention for the National HIV/STI Programme, Lovette Byfield, in commending the awardees, implored all stakeholders to become “champions for change” while helping to reduce the stigma and discrimination attached to the virus.
The National HIV/STI Programme, located within the Ministry of Health, entered into a partnership with the four entities to integrate HIV/AIDS issues into the corporate plans of private sector companies.
With their support, as at June 2009, the HIV/STI Programme has been able to reach more than 100 organisations to develop and implement HIV workplace policies to protect and respect the rights of employees living with or affected by the disease.
All workplace policies and programmes are based on the National HIV/AIDS Policy developed under the guidance of the Ministry of Health, and also incorporate the 10 International Labour Organisation (ILO) principles.
The ILO principles are: the recognition of HIV/AIDS as a workplace issue; non-discrimination; gender equality; a healthy work environment; social dialogue; no screening for exclusion from employment or work processes; confidentiality; continuation of employment; prevention; and care and support.