Heads and representatives of UN agencies have launched a campaign to promote the rights of people living with HIV, recognizing the vital role that the workplace plays in the global struggle to limit the spread and effects of the epidemic.
"The UN is leading by example through its own workplace policies,” said ILO Director-General, Guy Ryder. "Today, we must all together, governments, employers’ and workers’ organizations – the ILO’s constituents - and other stakeholders, recommit to protecting the human rights of people living with HIV so that they may enjoy productive work and live in dignity. Freedom from discrimination – a fundamental principle and right at work – is a basic starting point in getting to zero. Together we can.”
More than 30 million people living with HIV who are of working age still face a high level of discrimination, which prevents or limits their access to jobs. Young people account for over 40 per cent of new HIV infections globally each year.
"Zero deaths, zero new infections are realistic goals,” said Luiz Loures, Director of the Executive office of UNAIDS. "The most challenging objective is zero discrimination. ILO’s efforts on Getting to Zero at Work are critical for an effective response to HIV. The workplace is the most effective place to protect the human rights of workers and ensure a safe and supportive environment for people living with and affected by HIV.”
Margaret Chan, WHO Director-general, highlighted the important role that health workers play, saying that they stand on the frontline of the AIDS response: "If countries are to achieve universal access to HIV services, one of their first steps must be to ensure that all health workers have access to effective and affordable HIV prevention, treatment and care."
The "Getting to zero at work” campaign aims to promote ILO Recommendation No.200 concerning HIV and AIDS and the World of Work, 2010. The ILO standard addresses HIV through the promotion of human rights, job security and better access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support services from a workplace perspective.
The launch was marked by a human red ribbon in the colonnades at ILO headquarters in Geneva and the exhibition "POSITIVE: Living and working with HIV in Africa”, by Ms Gelise McCullough, a UNITAID official.
As a co-sponsor of UNAIDS, the ILO supports and builds on the vision of the UNAIDS campaign "Zero new HIV infections. Zero discrimination. Zero AIDS-related deaths".