AIDS Groups, Labor Unions Respond to Anglo American Plan to Distribute Antiretroviral Drugs to All HIV-Positive Workers
AIDS advocates and labor unions yesterday responded to mining company Anglo American's announcement that it would begin supplying antiretroviral drugs to all of its HIV-positive employees, the New York Times reports (Cauvin, New York Times, 8/7). The antiretroviral drugs will be supplied to all employees who are HIV-positive and "not covered by any medical aid scheme" (Macalister, London Guardian, 8/7). Moferefere Lekorotsoana, a spokesperson for the National Union of Mineworkers, "welcome[d]" Anglo's program, but added that private firms must begin working "in concert" with one another and with labor unions to fight HIV/AIDS in the workplace. "We'd like to see a much more collective approach to dealing with AIDS. Today it's Anglo giving the drugs, but what about Gold Fields? What about Harmony, and so on and so forth, who have not come to the party?" he asked (New York Times, 8/7). Lyndall Stein, a spokesperson for ActionAid, which works with HIV/AIDS projects in South Africa, said, "The role of the corporate sector in addressing treatment issues is highly important in a country that has such a devastating epidemic. We hope this initiative will be extended to other countries and will set an example to other companies." The Terrence Higgins Trust, a British AIDS charity, said that Anglo is "setting a lead" for other companies, but added that more political action is needed to guarantee access to medicines. "Companies cannot deal with this alone," a spokesperson for the organization said (London Guardian, 8/7). Through its subsidiaries, AngloGold and DeBeers, Anglo American employs about 90,000 people in southern Africa. An estimated 23% of its workforce -- or 18,000 people -- is
HIV-positive, company spokesperson Anne Dunn said (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 8/6).
PRI's "Marketplace" also reports today on Anglo's antiretroviral drug plan (Costello, "Marketplace," PRI, 8/7). The full segment is available online in RealPlayer Audio.