Leading South African Gold Producer To Provide Antiretroviral Drugs for Workers
AngloGold, South Africa's leading gold producer, on Tuesday announced that it would offer antiretroviral drugs to all of its HIV-positive workers, Reuters reports. The company estimates that between 25% and 30% of its 40,000 employees are HIV-positive. About 3,000 of those workers could benefit from the drugs, the company reports, adding that it expects a third of that number to accept the drug offer during the program's first year. HIV testing is not mandatory in South Africa, which has more people living with HIV/AIDS than any other country in the world, and many people choose not to be tested for fear of being stigmatized on the basis of their HIV status. According to CEO Bobby Godsell, the disease currently costs AngloGold between $4 and $6 per ounce of gold mined, totaling between $24 million and $32 million each year. The company has entered into a preferential pricing deal with drug producer GlaxoSmithKline but has declined to give details on the arrangement. AngloGold is one of many firms "mindful of the cost of lost production and replacing sick or dying workers" that have introduced their own treatment programs, according to Reuters (Chege, Reuters, 4/8). South Africa's second largest gold producer Gold Fields last week said that it would also offer free antiretroviral drugs to its employees (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 4/2).
This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.