Gov’t to update national HIV, AIDS workplace policy

The government is making aggressive efforts towards updating the National Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immuno-deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) Workplace Policy to a more comprehensive one.

As part of the critical undertaking, employers and employees must be thoroughly educated on the importance of the current policy.

Dr. Tariq Jagnarine, Programme Manager of NAPS

In an effort to advance this agenda, the National AIDS Programme Secretariat (NAPS) along with the Ministry of Labour and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) held a one-day consultation on Thursday, at Marriott Hotel, Kingston Georgetown.

NAPS’ Programme Manager, Dr. Tariq Jagnarine said Guyana plans to join forces with the Global AIDS Strategy 2021-2026, an ambitious framework that has a detailed roadmap for ending AIDS as a public health threat by 2030.

Having received recent reports of persons with HIV and AIDS being denied jobs in Guyana, Dr Jagnarine argued that this is erroneous and that everyone deserves a place in the working world.

“We have a unique opportunity to foster a supportive environment that promotes prevention, care, and inclusivity, by integrating the updated guidelines from the ILO (International Labour Organisation) and global best practices,” Dr Jagnarine said.

Members from the Guyana Police Force and other organisations present at the consultation

He noted that the stigma and discrimination need to be expelled from organisations, and advocated that more comprehensive workplace policies be implemented.

The programme manager added that employers should consider a working environment supporting everyone.

“We have good treatment in Guyana, free of cost. People can live healthy and long lives,” the emphasised.

Recently, the ministry has introduced prep-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), which targets persons who may feel that they are at a higher risk of becoming infected, along with self-testing.

Additionally, with Guyana’s infected population at approximately 9,700, the health ministry has been making massive strides in ensuring that care and treatment are sourced to all ten administrative regions.

Senior Officer of the Ministry of Labour Occupational Safety and Health Department, Gweneth King

Meanwhile, Senior Officer of the labour ministry’s Occupational Safety and Health Department (OSH), Gweneth King noted that there are regulations put in place years ago that safeguard the well-being of infected persons.

“These regulations make provision for the workplace policies. In fact, regulation three states that every workplace at which more than five workers are regularly employed shall have a written policy on HIV and AIDS, that is developed by employers, in consultation with employees,” stressed King.

Persons from various work places at the consultation

She noted that checks for the HIV and AIDS policy are usually made by OSH officers. However, more needs to be done and stricter policies will be implemented.

As the government aims to eradicate AIDS by 2030, and as the consultation progresses throughout the day, the various organisations and other stakeholders will review the National HIV and AIDS workplace policy that currently exists, where recommendations, proposed amendments and additions will be made.