Lankan corporates unite to pass pillow of awareness on World Aids Day

Thursday, 1 December 2011 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

The Sri Lanka Business Coalition on HIV and AIDS (LBCH), this year headed by President Kishu Gomes - Country Chairman for Chevron’s Sri Lanka business operations and CEO and Managing Director Chevron Lubricants Lanka Plc, will launch a campaign on World AIDS Day (1st December) to pledge support towards addressing the HIV and AIDS epidemic and provide a vital platform for creating awareness within the workplace and community.

Conceptualised by Bates Strategic Alliance, this year’s campaign ‘Pass on Awareness, not HIV’ seeks to engage a wider community by highlighting the need to eradicate discriminative attitudes towards this disease. The campaign will focus on the idea of passing on awareness about HIV and AIDS and integrating people living with HIV and AIDS to the workforce. It will be implemented in the form of the game ‘pass the pillow’. The pillow was first handed over by Nimal Gunewardena – Chairman Bates Strategic Alliance to Dr. Kishu Gomes in a symbolic gesture to mark World Aids Day. This ‘pillow of awareness’ will be passed on to all LBCH members who will in turn pass it on to their staff, ultimately sending out a clear message that acceptance is the only way forward.

“There are instances when you don’t want the pillow but you still get it. Similar to the way you are out of the game when you receive the pillow, those affected by this disease are kicked out of society and become victims of discrimination. But what if we pass awareness and not HIV? That is the question and call to action we pose to the people and corporate sector. HIV and AIDS is our problem. We must take ownership to find a solution for sustainability of our economy” highlights Dr. Kishu Gomes, LBCH President for 2011 / 2012.

In recent years, HIV and AIDS has emerged as an issue which has a serious impact on the corporate environment which, if not addressed, will threaten workplace productivity. The projected cumulative loss of the labour force due to AIDS by 2015 is estimated to be a staggering 74 million, and it is crucial to note that through awareness, two thirds of new infections can be prevented. The Sri Lanka Business Coalition on HIV and AIDS comprises sixty four of Sri Lanka’s top business organisations, which have joined forces and pledged their support towards this cause.

Since the organisations inception in 2004, LBCH has been instrumental in generating awareness to counter the spread of HIV and discriminatory practices in the workplace. LBCH works on the principle that businesses must act responsibly when handling this sensitive issue by working towards creating an environment that is conducive for behavioural change amongst employees engaging in risk behaviours, eradicating the stigma and discrimination related to employment, as well as respect confidentiality amongst its employees, in order to establish a healthy work environment. The organisation works closely with its members to conduct customised HIV and AIDS awareness programmes headed by professional trainers, establish HIV and AIDS policies in the workplace and linkages with local HIV service providers, and to improve access to information and services at the workplace.

In the long run, LBCH seeks to identify vulnerable subgroups in areas that are often difficult to access. The organisation will encourage businesses operating in such areas to join the coalition and raise awareness through the shared learning and skills of its members. For details regarding free awareness programs or assistance contact [email protected]