Namibian businesses in denial about HIV/AIDS: Report

Only 30 per cent of African country's businesses have done HIV prevalence tests

The issue of HIV/AIDS has not yet been given the prominence it needs by the business community in Namibia and many private sector companies are still in denial about HIV/AIDS in the workplace, according to a new report.

PricewatershouseCoopers surveyed business leaders in Namibia and found many believe employees are highly educated and therefore not at risk of being affected by HIV/AIDS

"Misperception still exists about the disease not being a threat to the companies, for various reasons. In several instances this was coupled with perception that it is therefore the government's responsibility to address HIV and AIDS," stated the report Business Decision Makers' Survey on HIV and AIDS: The Boardroom Speaks.

The survey found only 30 percent of respondents had conducted workplace HIV prevalence tests. Among those that had, employee participation rates ranged from 63 per cent to 90 per cent.

Southern Africa is the region most affected by HIV/AIDS, with 32 percent of the world's HIV/AIDS disease burden, according to the United Nations. Namibia's prevalence rate is higher than the region's average prevalence rate of 5.9 per cent.

The report said results from prevalence tests should be used by management to develop appropriate responses, strategic plans and risk management processes. Businesses also need to allocate the necessary resources and systems to ensure workplace HIV/AIDS policies can be implemented successfully.

When it comes to workplace policies, the report notes that "goodwill and intention appears to be present - the challenge is however in implementation."

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