The 1st of December is recognised internationally as World AIDS Day and serves to raise awareness of the HIV virus epidemic that affects millions of people worldwide. South Africa has the highest prevalence of people living with HIV and AIDS in the world.
According to a report published by Statistics South Africa in May 2013, there are an estimated 5.26 million people who are HIV positive in our country. In the group of South Africans aged 15 – 49 years, approximately 15.9% of them are HIV positive.
Despite these alarming statistics, many South Africans remain uneducated about the virus, how you can become infected, how to maintain a healthy lifestyle once you are infected, how the disease is spread and how you could become re-infected due to more than one strain of the virus existing.
As Occupational Health Specialists, we at Working Knowledge International encounter vast numbers of employees who test positive for HIV, as well as employees that are already aware that they are positive on a regular basis. As such, we see the vital need for raising HIV AIDS awareness in the workplace. We have first-hand insight into the impact that HIV and AIDS have on employees in all facets of their lives, including their productivity in the workplace as the virus progresses.
The threats of HIV and AIDS are very real. If left untreated, the virus can severely impact the life of the employee and his or her ability to maintain a normal life and be productive in the workplace.
However, if HIV is detected early and the employee is placed on the correct treatment regime and is educated with regards to the treatment and the importance of not defaulting on their medication, the employee is likely to remain healthy and productive for many years. HIV is a lifelong illness. There is no known cure, but advances in treatment have changed the view that HIV is a fatal disease. Doctors now consider HIV a chronic condition that can be controlled with medication and healthy lifestyle choices.
Working Knowledge International offers wellness programmes for companies that include raising HIV AIDS awareness in the workplace, to enlighten employees about all the aspects of the virus. In addition to this, we also offer one-on-one HIV counselling and testing that remains confidential.
We are able to administer these wellness programmes on a very large scale. Working Knowledge recently ran a wellness programme for a client with several branches across the country, for the third year in a row. We visited six cities in five days, delivering lectures, counselling and testing as we went. In 2012, we counselled and tested 835 employees on HIV. This year, the number of employes that we tested increased to 958.
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world” – Nelson Mandela
Contact us today (click here) to find out more information and to arrange a professional wellness programme for your organisation, tailor-made to suite your requirements or to complete an enquiry form.
HIV & AIDS Facts
- A person infected with HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) may not show symptoms for up to 10 years. This is called the asymptomatic period.
- HIV damages a person’s immune system and leads to immuno-deficiency. This means that the body can no longer fight off common infections.
- This occurs when HIV invades the immune cells called CD4 T-cells. The virus uses the cell to reproduce itself and then kills the CD4 T-cells.
- AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) is not a disease. It is a condition that arises when a person’s immune system has been greatly damaged by HIV.
- The first known case of AIDS was documented in 1981.