The Lanka Business Coalition of HIV and AIDS (LBCH) called on the heads of top corporates to protect their employees in a memo sent out to mark World AIDS Day, which falls on December 1.Over 2,000 cases of HIV& AIDS have been reported in Sri Lanka as of the end of the third quarter of 2014, the LBCH memo stated. Males were the worst affected, with 1,061 cases reported at the end of the third quarter alone. 21 AIDS related deaths were reported during the same period.“Empirical Data shows an alarming increase in the prevalence of HIV and AIDS in Sri Lanka, in direct contrast to a reduction in prevalence elsewhere in the world. This we believe is a result of the secrecy and social stigma surrounding the disease,” Chairperson of LBCH, Nadija Tambiah said. She added that most countries had combated the deadly diseases through awareness building.
In this sense, LBCH plays a vital role, conducting special sensitization and awareness programmes to its member organisations free of charge. LBCH also encourages all in the corporate sector to introduce dedicated HIV&AIDS policies to their workplaces.“HIV need not be a death sentence. Those who contract it can now live long and prosper with early diagnosis and proper treatment. More importantly, employees should be educated on preventative and treatment methods, as well as resources available for testing and counseling,” Tambiah said. As such, she called on corporates to take action and encourage HIV testing amongst their employees by participating in the national programme themed “Know your HIV status”.
Over the years, top corporates such as Citibank, Ceylon Tobacco Company, Deutschebank, Access Engineering, Sunshine Holdings, John Keells Holdings, Chevron, Standard Chartered Bank, DFCC Bank, Hatton National Bank and Etisalat have joined LBCH as member organisations.LBCH is a non profit coalition of individual corporates who have partnered with organizations such as the National STD/AIDS Control Programme of the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Labor, ILO, UNAIDS, Chambers of Commerce, and Employers Federation to address the critical issue of HIV and AIDS awareness and prevention.