German Auto Makers in South Africa Fund Own HIV/AIDS Programs
German auto makers with assembly plants in South Africa are spending "big money" on antiretroviral drugs, treatment and education to combat HIV/AIDS among their workforces, Reuters reports. The companies' efforts are expected to be highlighted during German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's visit to the country on Thursday. According to Reuters, car maker DaimlerChrysler South Africa spends approximately $420,000 each year to offer antiretroviral treatment to its HIV-positive employees, who make up an estimated 9% of the company's total workforce. Mike Folan, human resources manager for DCSA, said, "We decided on giving antiretroviral drugs to our employees because of the government's policy at the time. It (the government) wasn't providing antiretroviral therapy." He added, "The management board of DCSA gave a guarantee to people who were retrenched from the company that they and any of their family members registered on the program will continue to have benefits for two years and hopefully the government's program will be in place." An estimated 6% of Volkswagen South Africa's employees are HIV-positive, and the company operates a program similar to DCSA's with an annual budget of about $420,000. Gustav Meyer of the Department of Trade and Industry said, "Several of the motor vehicle assemblers in South Africa have indicated a willingness to increase the outreach of these programs. We are aiming to rollout the HIV/AIDS programs by the vehicle assemblers to the supplier base as well as the community. This will maximize the impact of efforts against HIV/AIDS" (Mutikani, Reuters, 1/22).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.