The international trade union movement is calling for governments to push ahead with a rights-based approach to tackling the HIV and AIDS pandemic, following the 18th International AIDS Conference in Vienna at the end of July.
“While there are some positive signs concerning HIV and AIDS prevalence in some countries, millions of HIV-positive people have no access to treatment, millions more are at high risk of infection and there are disturbing signs of increasing incidence in several countries. We have to overcome the stigma and discrimination which are still common around the globe, and allocate sufficient resources to stop the spread of the virus and ensure that treatment is available to all those affected. We are especially concerned that the global economic crisis, and cuts to public expenditure on health in particular could undermine the progress which has been made,” said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow.
Stressing the importance of action at the workplace in fighting the pandemic, the trade union delegation at the Vienna Conference highlighted the adoption of a Recommendation on HIV-AIDS and the World of Work by the ILO at its June Conference this year. The ILO Recommendation, the first ever international human rights instrument to focus explicitly on HIV and AIDS and the world of work, was adopted by an overwhelming majority of ILO delegates. It clearly establishes the importance of action at the workplace, including voluntary testing and counselling protection against discrimination, and focuses on the need for engagement with those most vulnerable and at risk.
Trade union participants from the ITUC, Global Union Federations and national representatives from across the world, including Argentina, Cameroon, Canada, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guyana, Kenya, Nigeria, the Philippines, Tanzania, Uganda, the UK, Ukraine and Zimbabwe joined the ITUC’s Austrian affiliate the OeGB which hosted the trade union delegation to the Vienna Conference, which was attended by more than 20,000 participants in total.
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