Human red rybbon crowns launch of African Union HIV Workplace Policy

By African Union Commission (AUC)

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, December 6, 2011/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- The African Union Commission has launched its HIV Workplace Policy on Friday, 02 December 2011, during a colourful ceremony featuring a “Human Red Ribbon”, grouping kids in the Plenary Hall, Conference Center at the Headquarters of the African Union, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The “Human Red Ribbon”, and related awareness creating activities were organized Medical Services Directorate (MSD), chaired by Dr. Mary Tapgun, Internist and HIV/AIDS in Workplace Policy Coordinator of African Union MSD.

The launch of the HIV Workplace Policy took place in the presence of Dr. Elham Mahmoud Ibrahim, Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy of the African Union who was the guest of honour; Dr. Kilenga Naftal, Consultant and Senior Biologist of the AU MSD; Mr. Tadele Demeke, Acting President of the Staff Association of the AU Commission; Dr. Maryam Hemed gynaecologist alongside staff of the AU.

Commissioner Ibrahim underscored the need for taking important steps forward such as developing and implementing appropriate legal policy frameworks; ensuring access to prevention and affordable treatment; providing care and support as well as ensuring a productive workplace environment for all people including persons with HIV/AIDS. The Commissioner reiterated the AU Commission's commitment to ensuring a safe and healthy working environment for all personnel. “The African Union will not tolerate any form of discrimination against employees or job applicants on any grounds including those related to HIV and AIDS”, she stressed, while officially declaring the African Union HIV/AIDS Workplace Policy operational

Presenting the Policy document, Dr. Tapgun explained that the HIV/AIDS Workplace Policy is aimed at mobilizing socio-economic and political actors to combat the disease. “We celebrate the AU's commitment to maintain a safe and healthy working environment; to protect human rights especially those living with HIV/AIDS; to eliminate all forms of stigma and discrimination; to ensure that HIV/AIDS is treated like any other chronic disease; and that employees and their dependents have up-to-date information on treatment care and support about this disease.” She underlined.

On his part, Mr, Demeke representing the AU Staff Association, highlighted the significance of this year's commemoration under the theme “Getting to Zero; Zero Mother to Child Transmissions”. He urged all stakeholders to redouble their efforts and take concrete action to ensure the implementation of the theme. ”The AU Staff Association will continue its close collaboration with the AU MSD to realise the goals of getting to Zero HIV-AIDS.” He noted.

The launching of the Policy was followed by the presentation of the focal points of the different AU department to ensure the effective implantation of the HIV Policy at workplace. A Family Evening consisting of the presentation of poems, drama, songs, arts and cultural events by students from various international schools based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia concluded the activities marking the World AIDS Day commemoration at the AU headquarters.

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