South African Gold Producer, Mining Unions Sign Deal on HIV Transmission Prevention Program for Mine Workers
South Africa's second-largest miner of gold, Gold Fields Ltd., signed an agreement on Wednesday with the representatives of several mining unions to create "one of the most advanced" workplace HIV/AIDS programs in the country, Reuters reports. The National Union of Mineworkers, the United Associations of South Africa and the Mineworkers Union Solidarity ratified the deal with the company to create an employee program that will focus on curbing the spread of HIV through education, voluntary HIV testing and promotion of condom use. More than 25% of Gold Fields Ltd.'s miners are currently infected with HIV, and South Africa has the greatest number of residents who are living with HIV/AIDS of any nation. Although antiretroviral drugs will not be offered as part of the company's program, counseling and management of "opportunistic diseases" and other STDs will be included. Due to the decline in productivity and increased absenteeism among employees, the high prevalence of HIV infection in the company had previously been predicted to add $4 to $5 to the cost of each ounce of gold produced by the group within five years. Without these newly agreed-upon measures, the prevalence rate of HIV/AIDS among the workers was expected to rise to 40% and add $10 to the cost of an ounce of gold by 2009 (Reuters, 12/12).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.