HIV Prevalence Rate in Corporate South Africa Has Increased to 19.4%, Study Says
The HIV prevalence rate among workers in South Africa's corporate sector has increased to 19.4% this year from 15% in 2003, suggesting the prevalence of the disease has not yet peaked, according to an Old Mutual Healthcare survey released on Thursday, Business Day reports. The survey of 100 South African companies found that most companies were unaware of the number of HIV-positive people in their workplaces, noting that 25 companies had conducted prior prevalence testing. Twelve of the 25 companies that had tested their employees agreed to anonymously release their data, and, despite limited participation, Old Mutual Healthcare risk manager Lydia Footman said that she believed the 19.4% rate was accurate. Old Mutual executive Paul la Cock said that the proportion of HIV-positive workers might still be increasing. He added that the number of new cases could reach a high in about two years, followed by a peak in the number of people falling ill and then a peak in costs that would be filtered through to companies and the country. Compared with a few years ago, companies are more conscious of the risk HIV/AIDS poses to their business, according to the survey. About 71% of the businesses surveyed have a strategy in place to counter effects of the epidemic, while 80% said developing an AIDS strategy was an important goal. In regard to treatment, all employees polled had access to antiretroviral drugs, but only 18% of the companies had established disease management programs (Rose, Business Day, 9/9).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.