UN seek private firms' help in curbing HIV/AIDS

Updated: 2013-08-14 22:02

By Wang Qingyun (chinadaily.com.cn)

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UNAIDS officials encouraged China's private enterprises on Aug 14 to play a more creative role in controlling HIV/AIDS.

The officials met with company heads who are members of the China Red Ribbon Foundation, a foundation supported by more than 20 private enterprises.

"The skill sets of dynamism, flexibility, creativity and the willingness to penetrate into the community and know what the consumer wants to buy are all the strong sets of private industry," said Steve Kraus, director of the UNAIDS Regional Support Team for Asia and the Pacific, at the meeting. "They are what makes a great partnership with government and civil society."

Huang Mengfu, honorary CRRF chairman, said China has 250 million migrant workers, most of whom are husbands or wives working in cities away from home and their spouses.

"There are higher risks for them of contracting HIV, and it is important that the private sector, where most of these people are hired, provides them education and services to prevent the disease," Huang said.

In 2010, the foundation carried out a program to reach out to migrant workers across the country by promoting knowledge on preventing and treating HIV, and providing them kits with personal hygiene items such as condoms, towels and nail cutters.

Guaranteeing job opportunities for people living with HIV is another pressing issue, said Kraus, who pointed out that nine out of 10 people living with HIV are in an economically productive age group.

"The number one thing … is that people living with HIV fear that they will lose their jobs," he said. "Deciding we will not discriminate against people living with HIV — people who apply for jobs will not be tested for HIV, people who have jobs and test positive for HIV will not be fired — that is a tremendous asset that you at private industry bring."

What's more, people with a high risk of getting HIV are "hiding themselves", said Michel Sidibe, UNAIDS executive director. Private companies can be more creative by raising public awareness through social media.