IT firms talk AIDS

IT firms talk AIDS

New Delhi: Large IT companies are increasingly taking up the responsibility of spreading awareness about HIV/AIDS among their employees. It’s not a problem yet for them. But it could become one. 65% of India’s IT companies are located in states with a high HIV concentration. And they employ a largely young labour force. A rise in the occurrence of the disease could hurt the sector. “At the end of the day it is not only helping future communities but also helping your future employees. It is of your interest to address this issue. Because some of the HIV cases happen with employees of these companies as well. So the business case is definitely rooted there", says Djordjija Petkoski, Lead Specialist, World Bank Institute.

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/Content/Videos/2009-02-12/MINT%20TV/1102_HIV_IT_Pkg_MINT_TV.flvfd04d7d6-f859-11dd-bf78-000b5dabf636.flvAccording to a 2008 report by UNAIDS 0.3% of total Indian population in the age-group of 15-24 years is living with HIV. BPOs and ITES companies feel particularly vulnerable, with a large proportion of their workforce coming straight out of school. Although HIV/AIDS awareness is a part of most companies’ Corporate Social Responsibility programme, a lot more still remains to be done. Subhi Quaraishi, CEO, ZMQ Software Systems says, “Most of companies did it as a fashion earlier. Now they are doing as a compulsion. That sooner they realize that the more they spend it is good for their business, the better it is. There have been cases wherein people have a very good HIV/AIDS programme, but when there is somebody who is HIV infected their behaviour is different". This is the biggest challenge.

Among the strategies that are being used to spread awareness, Nina Screwvalla, Global Head, TCS Maitree finds peer education most effective. “It works like a miracle", she says. There is also an urgent need to spread awareness among the support groups like the drivers, security guards, who are more vulnerable and belong to lower economic strata.