Call Center Companies in India Establish HIV/AIDS Programs To Educate Workers
Some call center companies in India are implementing HIV/AIDS education programs for their employees, whose new found "social freedoms" makes them vulnerable to contracting the virus, the Wall Street Journal reports. HIV/AIDS advocates and industry executives say the country's 1.3 million call center and outsourcing workers are emerging as a new risk group for HIV/AIDS -- along with commercial sex workers, migrant workers and truck drivers -- because most of them are single, mobile, living apart from traditionally restrictive families and "partying hard," the Journal reports. According to a February survey -- co-sponsored by the Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS and conducted by SSL International PLC, the makers of Durex condoms -- 11% of 1,100 workers at iEnergizer, a call center and outsourcing company in Noida, reported having had more than five sexual partners. A separate, nationwide survey, also conducted by SSL, finds that 7% of 1,300 adults surveyed reported having had more than five sexual partners. London-based Standard Chartered Bank has implemented HIV/AIDS education programs for roughly 6,000 call center employees in Chennai. Many other Indian and international businesses -- including Apollo Tyres, Intel, Microsoft and Tata Group -- also have established HIV prevention programs for employees, the Journal reports. However, "much of corporate India isn't as alarmed," about the impact of HIV/AIDS, according to the Journal. The Confederation of Indian Industry says that 10% of its 5,000 member companies are studying HIV/AIDS and that very few companies have HIV prevention programs in the workplace. According to UNAIDS, 5.7 million people in India are HIV-positive, and the National AIDS Control Organization says that figure could reach 6.3 million by 2012 without action to prevent new infections (Wonacott/Chase, Wall Street Journal, 8/9).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.