U.N. Body Expected to Adopt ‘Code of Conduct’ Prohibiting Discrimination of People with HIV/AIDS in the Workplace
The International Labor Organization, a Geneva-based United Nations body, today is expected to adopt a "comprehensive blueprint for workplace policy on AIDS," intended to "fight" workplace discrimination against people with HIV/AIDS, the New York Times reports. The new policy states, "HIV/AIDS is a major threat to the world of work. It is affecting the most productive segment of the labor force and reducing earnings, and it is imposing huge costs on enterprises in all sectors through declining productivity, increasing labor costs and loss of skills and experience." UNAIDS Executive Director Peter Piot said that in poor countries "where health systems cannot cope" with the AIDS epidemic, "the only hope most people may have of getting help with prevention and treatment will be at work." The New York Times reports that in many countries, HIV-positive individuals may "lose jobs, social standing and even medical care." The code, written for businesses, governments and workers' groups, says that there is "no justification" for asking job applicants or workers to disclose their HIV status, "HIV infection is not cause for termination of employment" and that all workers are entitled to "affordable health services." The code also says that prevention is an "essential part of a workplace program," asking employers to "make available, where appropriate, male and female condoms, counseling, care support and referral services." Employers should also train workers who may come into contact with blood or other bodily fluids about how to respond to such situations, the code says. The labor organization will present the code to the special U.N. General assembly session on AIDS next week (Crossette, New York Times, 6/22).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.