HIV/AIDS and the world of work

In Eastern Europe and Central Asia 1,4 million people are living with HIV. The number of new infections diagnosed each year continues to steadily increase, with no sign of the epidemic having reached its peak. Russian Federation has witnessed an increase of new HIV infections with a prevalence rate among adult population (15-49 y.o.) exceeding 1 per cent. 80 per cent of people living with HIV in the CIS countries are in the age group 15 to 49 years old, thus economically active in the labour market, and 75 per cent are under 30 years of age, as compared to 33 per cent in Western Europe. The major modes of HIV transmission are injecting drug use. This is due in large part to the existence of drug trafficking routes through the countries of Central Asia.

The ILO contributes with actions taken in and through the workplace contributing to zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related death. We engage with men and women at work, where they spend a large part of their lives. By providing information and education, we help workers learn about the facts and myths of HIV transmission, and make them understand that they have nothing to fear from casual contact with a co–worker living with HIV.

We promote HIV prevention measures among workers and their families, including avoidance of risky behavior and safe sex practices. We help to protect the labour rights of those living with and affected by HIV.

We promote a workplace without HIV-related discrimination and stigmatization, reaching out to families and communities, including ensuring no unfair termination of employment relationship on the basis of real or perceived HIV status and no mandatory HIV testing or screening for employment purposes. We promote principles of confidentiality, the right to privacy and access to voluntary HIV testing and counselling. Through actions in and through the world of work we send a strong message of hope: that people living with or affected by HIV can live actively and work productively for decades providing they have access to antiretroviral treatment if needed.

We help governments, employers’ and workers’ organizations to:

  • include HIV-related provisions in the existing labour legislation and policies; develop new HIV and AIDS laws and policies;
  • actively providing support for the effective implementation of relevant laws, codes and policies; • ensure workers have access to information on voluntary HIV counselling and testing;
  • promote awareness and education on how to access treatment, care and support policies in and through the world of work;
  • become actively engaged to combat HIV through training, and awareness campaigns, including actions taken during the World AIDS Day (1 December); and
  • conduct research to assess socio–economic impact of the HIV epidemic in the region.
The main aim of the ILO in Eastern Europe and Central Asia is to assist governments, employers’ and workers’ organizations in adopting and effectively implementing workplace programmes: to prevent new HIV infections; to protect the rights of workers living with or affected by HIV; and to share ILO’s tools and expertise with the constituents (first of all the Recommendation concerning HIV and AIDS and the world of work, 2010 (No. 200) and ILO’s Code of Practice on HIV/AIDS and the World of Work).