Unions globally promote HIV/AIDS prevention

Providing HIV tests, handing out leaflets, engaging people of all ages – these are just some of the activities carried out by ITF unions and partner organisations on World AIDS Day (1 December) to raise awareness of the disease among workers and the public.

A few highlights are:

• In the Philippines, ITF partner the Magsaysay Institute of Shipping held a seminar for 80 employees and seafarers, organised a competition and role play, produced and showed a video for cadets across all its sites, offered free HIV check-ups and distributed 1,500 condoms and lubricants. Another ITF partner, the Davao Academy, distributed red ribbons to students and staff to demonstrate support for people living with HIV/AIDS and their families.

• The Egyptian General Seafarers Union encouraged maritime companies and agencies to focus on HIV/AIDS, and held a seminar at which a specialist doctor provided information about symptoms, prevention and treatment of the disease.

• The Cochin Port Staff Association in India handed out leaflets from a street stall at a central bus station and enabled people to talk to a doctor. The FSUI provided free medical checks for seafarers, port and road transport workers at Mumbai Port Trust gate.

• The MTWTU in Ukraine held voluntary counselling and testing (VCT) for seafarers and ran special HIV awareness sessions at the Odessa maritime academy.

• Over a week, the USAFIRI positive workers network in Kenya and the Movement of Men Against AIDS tested 530 people for HIV, including UN offices and local companies.

• The Indonesian Railway Workers’ Union (SPKA) encouraged its members to hold up the red ribbon symbol in workplaces throughout the country.

ITF HIV/AIDS programme co-ordinator Dr Asif Altaf said: “ITF unions work day in, day out to promote awareness of HIV/AIDS. “It’s good to see that yet again, they have used World AIDS Day to reach thousands of workers and their families, to help them understand how to keep themselves safe from this disease.”

ITF president Paddy Crumlin commented that unions also played a vital role in combating workplace stigma against those who have HIV/AIDS, and welcomed their efforts to involve companies and employers in promoting awareness of the disease.

According to UNAIDS (the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS), an estimated 1.9 million adults have become infected with HIV every year for the past five years, with the decline in new infections having stalled. Learn more about UNAIDS activities on Twitter using #hivprevention.

Find out more about union activities, which were part of the ITF’s 2016 World AIDS Day campaign in conjunction with the UNAIDS Hands up for HIV prevention campaign.

If you’re a seafarer, download the new, free ITF wellbeing app for information and guidance on HIV/AIDS transmission, symptoms, prevention and treatment.

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