Minister of Commerce, Senator Lynette Eastmond (at left) in discussion with Deputy Director of the National HIV/AIDS Commission, Lyn Armstrong (at right).

This country’s Minister of Commerce, Consumer Affairs and Business Development, Senator Lynette Eastmond, has voiced concern on how some businesses view employees who had contracted HIV and AIDS.

She was today speaking at the start of a two-day sensitisation seminar on HIV/AIDS for the business community, hosted by her Ministry at ACR Business Solutions, Harbour Industrial Park.

“I am a bit concerned that the business community appears not to be taking this matter as seriously as it should be. … It needs to more readily embrace our efforts … to bring HIV/AIDS sensitisation to the fore and emphasise behavioural change along with the dominant issue of discrimination.

“Apart from having codes of conduct to deal with non-discriminatory practices, I also hope the business community will take responsibility for encouraging their workers to lead healthy lives,” she said.

Deputy Director of the National HIV/AIDS Commission, Lyn Armstrong, told the participants that how businesses responded to the epidemic would be influenced by the perceived cost to them.

“If costs are perceived as low, firms may tend to ignore the problem. If costs are seen as high, then they may try to dismiss or avoid hiring such employees for fear of risk of infection,” she said.

The two-day event is aimed at: improving understanding of the impact of the epidemic on employers; helping management see their costs in better perspective; developing more rational approaches to managing the effects of the disease among employees; and retaining productive and skilled infected employees for as long as their health permits.

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