As the government intensifies its prevention drive on Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) yesterday warned employers against discriminating employees afflicted with these diseases.
“Any form of discrimination against persons with HIV/AIDS is sanctioned under R.A. 8504, or the Philippine AIDS Prevention and Control Act of 1998. Under the law, each employer shall ensure non-discriminatory practices in the workplaces, such as acquiring HIV testing,” Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz said.
Baldoz issued the warning at the same time that the DOLE seeks to intensify its information drive on HIV and AIDS prevention in workplaces.
The labor chief reminded employers that under R.A. 8504, HIV testing should not be required as a precondition for employment.
Towards this end, she said the Occupational Safety and Health Center (OSHC) is working to make more visible and extensive efforts in reaching and informing workers on the dangers of risky workplace behaviors that may lead to HIV/AIDS infection.
The OSHC has intensified its HIV and AIDS prevention and control campaign through the conduct of lectures, training, and orientation in private companies. It has also developed and disseminated information, education, and communication materials on information on the basics of HIV and AIDS prevention, transmission, and promotion of non-discrimination against persons with HIV/AIDS.
With regards to private companies, Baldoz urged them to implement Department Order No. 102-10, Series of 2010, or the Guidelines for the Implementation of HIV and AIDS Prevention and Control in the Workplace Program.
“Private enterprises must have HIV and AIDS prevention and control programs that should contain provisions for educating workers on the basics of HIV and AIDS, including the modes of transmission, ways of avoiding infection, diagnosis, and treatment,” she said. “They should also implement non-discriminatory policy and practices, ensure confidentiality of HIV status, and work accommodation and arrangements.
The department order also mandates the setting up of a comprehensive HIV/AIDS policy and program that will deal with prevention and elimination of discrimination of persons with HIV/AIDS.
Under D.O. 102-10, the components of the HIV and AIDS prevention and control workplace policy and program should include advocacy, information, education, and training; social policy; and diagnosis, treatment, and referral services.
Citing data of the DOLE’s Bureau of Working Conditions (BWC), on the results of the implementation of the Labor Laws Compliance System (LLCS), Baldoz said that as of 30 September 2015, out of 31,428 companies visited by Labor Law Compliance Officers nationwide, there are already 24,018 companies found compliant with Department Order No. 102-10, Series of 2010, or has an existing guidelines on the control and prevention of HIV/AIDS in their workplaces.
In NCR, of the 5,550 establishments visited, there are 3,593 establishments that are already compliant with D.O. No. 102-10; CAR, of the 968 establishments visited, 845 are compliant; Region 1, of the 1,149 establishments visited, 1,143 establishments are compliant; Region 2, of the 821 establishments visited, 470 are compliant; Region 3, of the 4,696 establishments visited, 4,444 are compliant; Region 4-A, of the 4,561 establishments visited, 3,812 are compliant; Region 4-B, of the 827 establishments visited, 745 are compliant; Region 5, of the 1,326 establishments visited, 1, 047 are compliant; Region 6, of the 1,056 establishments visited, 1,047 are compliant; Region 7, of the 2,564 establishments visited, 1,334 are compliant; Region 8, of the 795 establishments visited, 523 are compliant; Region 9, of the 974 establishments visited, 691 are compliant; Region 11, of the 1,985 establishments visited, 1,783 are compliant; Region 12, of the 887 establishments visited, 725 are compliant; and Region 13, of the 1,060 establishments visited, 845 are compliant.
D.O. 102-10 also provides direction for employers, employees, and program implementers in the workplace of private establishments on the installation and implementation of a policy on HIV and AIDS in accordance with R.A. 8504.
“Republic Act 8504 also includes provisions that require HIV/AIDS education programs to be given in all government and private offices and in communities,” said Baldoz.
According to data from the DOH’s HIV/AIDS registry, there were 560 new HIV cases reported in the first quarter of this year, 209 of which were reported in the National Capital Region (NCR); 102 from Region 4-A; and 48 in Region 3. The 560 new cases represent a 42 percent increase compared to the 393 cases reported in April 2014. The current figure translates to an average of 20 new HIV cases being reported each day since the start of the year.