ILO conference adopts new international labour standard on HIV and AIDS – August/September 2010

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Governments, employers and workers at the annual conference of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in June in Geneva adopted a new international labour standard on HIV and AIDS. It is the first international human rights instrument to focus specifically on the issue in the world of work.

The new standard was adopted by a vote of 439 to 4 by delegates, following two years of intense and constructive debate.

"Potentially life-saving"

The standard contains provisions on potentially life-saving prevention programmes and anti-discrimination measures. It also stresses the importance of employment and income-generating activities for workers and people living with HIV, particularly in terms of continuing treatment. 

It states that HIV/AIDS should be recognised as a workplace issue, and that there should be no discrimination against workers, in particular jobseekers and job applicants, on the grounds of real or perceived HIV status. Additionally, no workers should be required to undertake an HIV test or disclose their HIV status.

The Conference also adopted a resolution on its promotion and implementation, requesting that a Global Action Plan be established to achieve its widespread implementation.

"No time to waste"

Thembi Nene-Shezi of South Africa, who chaired the debates on the standard in the HIV/AIDS Committee, said “we have an instrument that should be a source of pride for the ILO and its constituents. We have no time to waste however. We must move forward and promote the standard. The engagement of those that have given birth to it – the governments, employers and workers – will be crucial to the development of national workplace policies anchored in human rights and directed at overcoming discrimination.”

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