Ivory Coast Firm’s Workplace AIDS Programs Could Serve as a Model for West African Businesses
The Ivory Coast power company CIE, whose workplace anti-AIDS programs include condom distribution and antiretroviral treatment for its employees, is viewed as a model for the region and could serve as the basis for similar efforts by other African companies, Reuters reports. CIE regularly distributes condoms to its employees and provides AIDS education for communities located near its offices, especially in areas where there is a high level of prostitution. The company also provides health coverage and confidential medical care to its 13,000 workers and their relatives; HIV-positive workers receive antiretroviral treatment through a company fund that is partly subsidized by employee contributions. CIE's policy to provide antiretroviral drugs "sets the project apart from most others," Reuters reports. In addition, HIV-positive workers receive assurance from the company that they will not be fired because of their HIV status.
Angelique Wilson, head of social affairs at CIE, said that the firm's anti-AIDS efforts are showing "clear signs of success." She stated that the rate of sexually transmitted diseases among workers had fallen 65% since the beginning of the programs. Because utility firms are among the largest employers in the Ivory Coast region, CIE's efforts are being viewed as a model for the area. CIE recently hosted a meeting with power and water companies from across West Africa to teach them how to create similar AIDS programs. Dr. Abdoulaye Diallo, a doctor for the Mali-based power and water company EDM, said that his company might try to "re-create something similar" to CIE's program. In West Africa, approximately 10% of people ages 15 to 49 are believed to be HIV-positive; Ivory Coast has the highest HIV infection rate in the region (Thomson, Reuters, 1/14).