HIV Prevention in the world of work in sub-Saharan Africa: Research and practice
Unlike some diseases that affect the vulnerable, HIV primarily affects those most productive in the population. Within this context the private sector has a considerable role to play in managing HIV and AIDS and in contributing to comprehensive national responses. In South Africa, amid debate over the motivations of company responses to the HIV epidemic and in a context of inaction and denial by the government, large firms such as Debswana Diamond Company and Anglo American, took the lead in the provision of antiretroviral therapy (ART) to all employees with HIV who qualified for treatment; they did so well before the South African public health sector made treatment available in 2004. However, while a range of HIV/AIDS-related activities takes place in the world of work in African countries everyday, gaps in our knowledge remain. HIV and AIDS interventions in the world of work and outside have tried to contain and mitigate the impact of the epidemic through HIV prevention, treatment, care and support. Often, however, HIV-prevention efforts have not changed behavior. Even so, in recent years the focus has returned to HIV prevention due to a number of key factors. This article explores the various themes that emerged for the third “HIV and AIDS in the Workplace Research Conference” in 2010 including: public, private and community partnerships for HIV prevention; gender, women’s health and HIV and AIDS; migration; treatment; youths; broad HIV prevention; and finally selected research presented during the plenary sessions. This is followed by an overview of the articles published in this special issue of AJAR that demonstrate a large body of research evidence that can be utilized to inform concerted efforts to make workplaces sites of HIV-related behavior change.The primary objective of the conference, namely to strengthen the existing network of researchers in this field, while providing an opportunity for them to present their work to business stakeholders, as well as the challenges faced by these researchers are also discussed. Finally, reflections on HIV/AIDS-related research and practice are shared in relation to tying research to practice and the dissonance between the existing workplace HIV programming and the protection of employees.