From corporate initiative to community support

From corporate initiative to community support

While several companies are taking up HIV initiatives for their employees and in their workplaces, some are going a step further to reach out to a larger community.

The Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) has teamed up with Godrej Industries and Ballarpur Industries to set up anti retroviral treatment (ART) centres. The Godrej-run ART centre is near its facility in Vikhroli, in suburban Mumbai, hoping to benefit slum dwellers in the area.

Mphasis has installed condom vending machines in the vicinity of its offices, including in parking areas. “[They] have been accessed… by people who are not Mphasis employees, including drivers and visitors to the office buildings, making this a community outreach initiative," says Nimrod Dias, Operations Manager at Mphasis, Bangalore.

Earlier this year, Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) joined hands with the United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) to ensure equal access to HIV services for the poor across India. RIL already has successful workplace initiatives on HIV across its plants in Hazira, Jamnagar and Dahej in Gujarat which have been scaled up to reach out to more than a 100,000 people in the surrounding communities. The community care centre at Hazira provides free treatment to hundreds of people living with HIV making it one of the largest anti-retroviral treatment centers in the country. "I am convinced that such a business model will enable countries to quicken the pace of action in scaling up programmes and meet the needs of hard-to reach populations," Michel Sidibe, UNAIDS deputy executive director, Programmes, said in a statement.

Its initiatives in these locations will be the role models for future expansion through the RIL-UNAIDS partnership. The specific focus will be on expansion of healthcare outreach to rural populations especially serving people living with HIV. It will address existing gaps in the public health system and build the capacities of public and private healthcare providers.

Satyam Foundation, the corporate social responsibility arm of Satyam Computer Services Ltd, runs several community initiatives on education, health, environment and empowerment of the disadvantaged. One of them has employees working as volunteers to create awareness of HIV/AIDS in Hyderabad’s slums. The foundation has also run awareness programmes for students at professional colleges in Andhra Pradesh and Orissa, focusing on ‘communication’ skills and the need to take informed decisions—as for career building, so to address HIV/AIDS.

Standard Chartered Bank, through the Clinton Global Initiative, has pledged to educate one million people on HIV and AIDS by 2010. This is being achieved through an HIV workplace education programme called Living with HIV that educates Standard Chartered staff and other companies on the issues around the epidemic. Hundreds of staff volunteers, called ‘HIV Champions’, have been trained to run the education programmes across 50 countries. The bank is offering these education tools and the expertise of HIV Champions free of charge to partner companies who wish to implement HIV education programmes within their own organisations. Major global organisations such as AIESEC, Virgin Group and Crown Worldwide have already joined.