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     FrontPage Edition: Thu 4 May 2006

The Challenge Posed by HIV/ AIDS to Singapore Businesses


Speech By Dr Balaji Sadasivan, Senior Minister of State for Information, Communications and the Arts and Health
An Excerpt
The Challenge Posed by HIV/ AIDS to Singapore Businesses
In recognition of the threat of HIV/AIDS to businesses, the World Economic Forum commissioned the Global Review of the Business Response to HIV/AIDS as part of its 2003/2004 Global Competitiveness Report. This survey measured the business response to combating AIDS.
A total of 7,789 companies across 103 countries, including Singapore, were asked about their concerns over and response to the threat of HIV/AIDS. One hundred and twenty firms from Singapore participated in the survey. Of these Singapore firms,
  • 3 out of 4 companies (73%) estimated that only less than 1% of their employees are HIV positive; this is a reasonable estimate.
  • 3 out of 4 companies (76%) did not expect HIV/AIDS to have a serious impact on their company both now and in the future. This will be true only if businesses put in place preventive measures. Given the rising trend of HIV infections in Singapore, businesses in Singapore need to address the prevention and control of HIV/AIDS in their companies.
In Singapore, the number of HIV-positive people has climbed steadily from the first case detected here in 1985 to 2,641 by December 2005. Three out of four (74.77%) who are infected are actively employed.
The increasing numbers are a worrying trend because they are affecting our people during their productive years.
In 2005, out of the 255 new cases reported, a great majority (87%) comprised the age group of 20 - 59 years old, with those aged 20 - 49 years accounting for as much as 70% of all new cases.
In view of this, government, businesses and unions need to work together, and act decisively to stop this alarming trend.
One action we can take is to bring to the workplace an AIDS education programme that will educate workers on AIDS prevention and which will fight discrimination against HIV positive workers at the workplace.
Through HIV/AIDS education programmes, employees can increase their abilities and skills to protect themselves against HIV/AIDS and develop more positive attitude towards people living with AIDS.

Full Text of Speech

Source: Press Release 20 Apr 2006

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