Workers speak out on World AIDS Day

Anniversaries, Associations, Clubs, Corporate Social Responsibility, Health and Safety, HR, ITF, Medical — By on November 28, 2014 at 11:40 PM
The ITF HQ's in London

The ITF HQ’s in London

HIV positive workers from ITF (International Transport Workers’ Federation) trade unions are among those speaking out on World AIDS Day on Monday 1 December. All are involved in ITF programmes to challenge HIV/AIDS – and the stigma that surrounds it – in the workplace and the home.

28/11/2014
ITF unions will be taking part in the day with a variety of activities, including prevention, education and voluntary counselling and testing events, marches and rallies. Find out more here: www.itfglobal.org/en/campaigns-solidarity/campaigns/world-AIDS-day-2014.

ITF HIV/AIDS programme co-ordinator Dr Asif Altaf explained: “The ITF has worked tirelessly to tackle the effects of HIV/AIDS, especially among transport workers, who are particularly vulnerable to its effects. The often ground-breaking programmes and activities developed with our unions are vastly strengthened by the experience of those personally touched by the disease, and World AIDS Day is providing a platform through which they can make their stories available to their fellow workers.”

These are some of the experiences that trade unionists will be sharing with their fellow workers on World AIDS Day (WAD):

Liton Saha, a seafarer from India, who is also the coordinator of a network of HIV positive transport workers: “HIV positive workers still face huge challenges in terms of discrimination in the workplace and even at home. Me and the network of HIV positive transport workers will work hand in hand with ITF affiliates to mark World AIDS Day and challenge HIV/AIDS-related stigma and discrimination not only on WAD but all year round.”

Veronica Mwavula, a clinic attendant in a Kenya port authority clinic and treasurer of the USAFIRI network of HIV positive transport workers: “I was tested voluntarily and the result was positive. Obviously, my mission is not easy but I am glad to be involved in advocacy programmes with the union against HIV. I am so happy when I see transport workers change their behaviour. It is essential to involve HIV positive transport workers in prevention programmes.”

Davison Samuel Kambudzi, general secretary of the Malawi railway workers’ union and chair of the Malawi network of HIV positive transport workers: “Being HIV positive is just the beginning of another life. Knowing your status is a big step towards the fight against the pandemic. Union leaders and their members are there to carry the mantle of the Getting to Zero campaign.”

Mike, a port worker from the Caribbean island of Guyana, : “When I was tested positive for HIV, I decided to join the fight against the stigma associated with it by sharing personal testimonies in the workplace. Transport workers feel comfortable being able to speak with their peers. We must have frank discussions about sex, HIV and machismo, and also about the stigma and discrimination faced by workers in the workplace”.

The ITF works to:

  • establish HIV/AIDS as part of trade unions’ core programmes and activities
  • encourage unions to lobby for HIV to become a workplace issue
  • support programmes and activities to prevent future infections
  • provide care and support to infected members and their families

For more about this work see www.itfglobal.org/en/cross-sectoral-work/hiv-AIDS

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