Unions spread the word about HIV/AIDS and stigma

HIV positive workers and other ITF trade union members were out in force on World AIDS Day (1 December) to challenge HIV/AIDS and the stigma that surrounds it at work and in the community.

The National Union of Seafarers of India, the Maritime Union of India, the Transport and Dock Workers Union, MBPT Docks and General Employees Union together visited Indian and foreign flagged ships to raise awareness. The Bangladesh Seamen’s Association distributed educational materials to seafarers and cadets in maritime schools, while at Bangladesh Railway, the Bangladesh Railway Employees' League launched a new venture to organise other unions to fight against HIV/AIDS.

The Guyana Clerical and Commercial Workers Union organised an event on HIV-related stigma and workplace violence against women for seafarers, dockers, ports and civil aviation employees. In Costa Rica, the Asociación Nacional de Trabajadores y Afines del Transporte collaborated with the local government in San Jose to hold discussion sessions with taxi drivers and distribute condoms and ITF materials. SITEAIES in El Salvador organised rallies and displayed ITF and local health authority posters in workplaces.

At Zimbabwe’s eight airports, NAWU held parades and performed short dramas on the effects of HIV/AIDS stigmatisation. Elsewhere in African, the UFLS ASECNA-BENIN organised discussion sessions, rallies and a voluntary counselling and testing camp for union members and the community.

In the AMOSUP Seamen's Hospital in Cebu, Philippines 42 members and their families watched a film and heard the infection control nurse talk about the disease and its transmission and offer advice on dealing with stigma.

 ITF HIV/AIDS programme co-ordinator Asif Altaf said: “Transport workers are particularly vulnerable to the effects of HIV/AIDS. I praise all the unions who involved their members and local communities in raising awareness about the disease and am thankful for the courage of those who are HIV positive in speaking out.”

Read the reports of World AIDS Day activities here and don't forget to let everybody know what you did, too. All you need to do is post your comment and share the news.

See photographs and videos from the day.

Find out more about the ITF’s work on HIV/AIDS.

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