HIV/AIDS in Africa

While HIV now affects every country in the world, it has reached epidemic proportions across large parts of Africa. A crucial workplace issue and a major development challenge, the HIV epidemic poses a serious threat to the health and livelihoods of working women and men and has serious implications for enterprises, as well as for national and regional economies.

The global response to HIV and AIDS is at a critical juncture. Nowhere is this more evident than in the region of Sub-Saharan Africa. Of the global total of 34 million women and men living with HIV today, the vast majority—an estimated 23.5 million or 69 percent—live in Sub-Saharan Africa. In addition, the overwhelming majority—92 percent—of all pregnant women living with HIV and 90 percent of the world’s children living with HIV live in this sub-region. Women are particularly affected, representing close to 58 per cent of those living with HIV in the sub-region. The majority—71per cent—of all AIDS-related deaths worldwide in 2011 were recorded in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Significant challenges continue to confront African Member States in the bid to achieve the objectives of the “Abuja Call” and the MDGs by 2015. By that year, the ILO intends to show evidence of a substantial reduction in new HIV infections and an increased level of resilience to HIV and AIDS among vulnerable men and women workers and their families.

ILO’s response to HIV and AIDS in Africa

Over the last years, the ILO and its constituents in Africa have focused on promoting the ILO Code of Practice on HIV/AIDS and the World of Work. This has proved an important component in the drive for increased awareness of ways to prevent the spread of the epidemic, supporting those living with and affected by the virus, addressing stigma and discrimination, and extending treatment.

The ILO’s focus is on generating evidence to close the existing knowledge gap and provide its constituents with a range of proven interventions to scale up programmes that reduce new HIV infections and increase workers’ access to HIV services.

This aim is also in line with the African Union’s objective which is to further expand country ownership and support mutual accountability.

The new ILO strategy will broaden actions to address HIV through national safety and health systems, labour inspection, working conditions and social security. The strategy will place an increased focus on women and girls, young people and workers in the informal economy. It will target the transport, mining, commerce and tourism sectors, SMEs and cooperatives.