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Groups vow to fight discrimination against workers with HIV

MANILA, Philippines - The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) is working with Pinoy Plus Association Inc., a group of Filipinos infected with the AIDS virus, to combat discrimination against Filipinos infected with HIV/AIDS.

In a statement, the groups called on employers and the government to enforce workplace policies to stop the rejection of HIV positives from employment and promotion and termination from their jobs.

Gerard Seno, executive vice president of Associated Labor Unions (ALU)-TUCP, said the call is in line with the observance of International Workers Memorial Day tomorrow.

“This type of discrimination is persisting and spreading even in the workplace. We learned that more and more workers with HIV have lost their jobs, their employment application turned down, their promotion declined and many are denied access to affordable health services. We must remove these kinds of discrimination,” he said.

ALU and trade unions around the world are organizing events to celebrate International Workers Memorial Day to highlight the preventable nature of workplace accidents, ill health and discrimination and to promote improved health and safety at work. It is also in remembrance of those who died due to asbestos exposure at the workplace.

A candle-lighting ceremony will be held tomorrow in observance of the event.

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Seno said the Department of Labor and Employment should strictly enforce Department Order 102-10 or the guidelines for the implementation of HIV and AIDS prevention and control in the workplace program.

He also stressed the need for employers to adopt and give incentives to those implementing the program in their respective companies or offices.

Records of the Department of Health (DOH) showed that there are 934 cases of HIV in the country. At least 93 cases progressed into AIDS in January and February while 16 died.

The DOH had documented 17,450 HIV cases, including 1,599 AIDS and 950 deaths since 1984, when the registry started.

Sexual contact accounts for 16,247 of the infections, 743 through needle sharing among injecting drug users, 62 through mother-to-child transmission and 20 through blood transfusion and needle prick injury.

The DOH is providing free anti-retroviral treatment to infected individuals with the help of the international financing institution Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. – With Michelle Zoleta



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