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Special: Improve preventive measures - Build up trust

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Few issues generate as much fear and anxiety as HIV/AIDS. That means trust in employers plays a crucial role in the HIV workplace program. Associates must be protected from discrimination and have the security of knowing that information about HIV/AIDS is treated with absolute confidentiality. This applies in particular to test results. That's why, in 2003, Bosch cooperated with all the relevant parties to establish privacy rights, confidentiality and protection against discrimination as the core principles for its HIV workplace program. Supported by the Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ), Bosch shared its experience with other companies early on and also became a member of the Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS.
 
Preventive measures are a key focus of the HIV workplace program. Specialist advisors organize regular information events and training sessions for multipliers. All associates have access to free voluntary testing and counseling. Here too, the Bosch regional subsidiary in South Africa receives support from external experts. The sooner infected employees know about their condition, the lower the risk that they will infect others. Alongside preventive measures, providing support and medicine to associates with the virus is also an integral part of the program.

Special: Improve preventive measures - Can HIV workplace programs reduce the spread of AIDS in South Africa?

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Sometimes, there's no such thing as too much negative growth. In the past eight years, the number of new cases of HIV has dropped by 17 percent worldwide. In 2008, there were even slightly fewer new infections recorded in South Africa, the region with the largest number of people living with HIV. Nonetheless, at 5.7 million, the total number of South Africans with AIDS is still unimaginably high – and that has knock-on effects for the population and the country. In 2007, around 350,000 people in South Africa died of HIV and there were 1.4 million orphaned children.

The pandemic is also having a major impact on the economy of South Africa. The loss of workers is robbing companies of valuable expertise, reducing productivity and increasing health and training costs. Bosch established a presence in South Africa as early as 1906 and, today, employs almost 1,000 associates. Like many companies, Bosch introduced an HIV/AIDS program some years ago and is also committed to addressing the consequences of the condition. The South African government aims to cut the rate of infection by 50 percent by 2011. Can companies contribute to this by providing education, preventive measures and medicines?