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ILO seeks to reach 5 million workers with voluntary HIV testing by 2015

(Xinhua)

10:18, June 07, 2013

GENEVA, June 6 (Xinhua) -- The International Labor Organization (ILO), supported by the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), launched on Thursday an initiative to reach 5 million workers with voluntary and confidential HIV counselling and testing by 2015.

The initiative, dubbed [email protected], will ensure that people who test positive are referred to HIV services for care and support, and treatment if needed, said the ILO.

Guy Ryder, ILO Director-General, called upon all ministries of labor, employers' and workers' organizations to join forces and turn this target into reality.

The rapid expansion of antiretroviral therapy in recent years has allowed 8 million people living with HIV to access treatment, enabling them to live longer, healthier and more productive lives and remain part of the workforce.

However, according to UNAIDS, it is estimated that 7 million people currently eligible for treatment are not accessing it.

Furthermore, it is estimated that around 40 percent of people living with HIV globally, do not know their status, thus preventing them from accessing treatment. In many countries, this figure is higher than 50 percent.

"If workplaces embrace this new initiative it could signify one of the most important advances we've seen in expanding access to HIV testing within a healthy, enabling environment and linking to on-going support including treatment," said Michel Sidibe, Executive Director of UNAIDS.

India has already launched a national [email protected] program, with South Africa and Tanzania expected to follow in the coming months, according to the ILO.

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