||The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) are serious public health problems which, have socio-economic, employment and human rights implications.
||It is recognised that the HIV/AIDS epidemic will affect every workplace, with prolonged staff illness, absenteeism, and death impacting on productivity, employee benefits, occupational health and safety, production costs and workplace morale.
||HIV knows no social, gender, age or racial boundaries, but it is accepted that socio-economic circumstances do influence disease patterns. HIV thrives in an environment of poverty, rapid urbanisation, violence and destabilisation. Transmission is exacerbated by disparities in resources and patterns of migration from rural to urban areas. Women, particularly are more vulnerable to infection in cultures and economic circumstances where they have little control over their lives.
||Furthermore HIV/AIDS is still a disease surrounded by ignorance, prejudice, discrimination and stigma. In the workplace unfair discrimination against people living with HIV and AIDS has been perpetuated through practices such as pre-employment HIV testing, dismissals for being HIV positive and the denial of employee benefits.
||One of the most effective ways of reducing and managing the impact of HIV/AIDS in the workplace is through the implementation of an HIV/AIDS policy and programme. Addressing aspects of HIV/AIDS in the workplace will enable employers, trade unions and government to actively contribute towards local, national and international efforts to prevent and control HIV/AIDS. In light of this, the Code has been developed as a guide to employers, trade unions and employees.
||Furthermore the Code seeks to assist with the attainment of the broader goals of :
||eliminating unfair discrimination in the workplace based on HIV status;
||promoting a non-discriminatory workplace in which people living with HIV or AIDS are able to be open about their HIV status without fear of stigma or rejection;
||promoting appropriate and effective ways of managing HIV in the workplace;
||creating a balance between the rights and responsibilities of all parties; and
||giving effect to the regional obligations of the Republic as a member of the Southern African Development Community.
The Code will be accompanied by Technical Assistance Guidelines on Managing HIV/AIDS in the workplace. It is envisaged that these will be developed in the second half of 2000 and published during 2001. The guidelines will provide more detail on the implementation of potential policies and programmes to address these impacts, including strategies to accommodate the needs of small businesses and the informal sector.