In celebration of World AIDS Day, Standard Chartered in association with the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce and the National STD/AIDS control programme of the Ministry of Health will remind individuals about the importance of prevention in fighting the pandemic as well as the need to challenge the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS, at a special corporate forum held today at the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce Auditorium.
Kumar Sangakkara, former Captain of the Sri Lanka Cricket team, as keynote speaker, will reiterate this message with a special focus on HIV and the workplace.
Standard Chartered Bank CEO Anirvan Ghosh Dastidar speaking of the bank’s ‘Living with HIV’ programme, said: “Our aim is to reduce the spread of this virus by promoting behavioural change through education. The bank’s network of trained employee volunteers that we call HIV Champions, work to raise awareness of HIV and AIDS within the bank and with external organizations. Since the inception of the program – which is interactive and impactful – our HIV Champions in Sri Lanka have trained nearly 4000 people and conducted 70 awareness sessions.”
Standard Chartered is one of the few financial institutions to proactively champion the importance of education in the work place to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS. In 1999, Standard Chartered launched Living with HIV, a work education programme, to respond to the detrimental impact HIV/AIDS was having on its employees in Africa.
Living with HIV provides employees with the facts and tools to make safe lifestyle choices and avoid becoming infected or infecting others as well as removing the stigma and discrimination associated with the disease. The bank was one of the first companies to take such an approach. The programme has, since, been rolled out to its offices globally.
As part of the bank’s employee policies, non-discriminatory/non-disclosure clauses protect any employee who may be affected by HIV and AIDS. The bank also provides financial support to employees to help cover the cost of necessary anti-retroviral drugs when they are not freely available in their home country.
Last year Standard Chartered delivered on a Clinton Global Initiative commitment to educate one million people on HIV/AIDS, reaching 1.6 million by the end of the year. As part of its promise, the bank shared its Living with HIV programme with more than 70 partners in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. As part of this initiative, bank employees offered face-to-face workshops to participating organisations and local communities.
Standard Chartered Bank Head of Corporate Affairs Sanjeewani de Silva said: “According to UNAIDS, the number of new HIV infections continues to outstrip the advances in treatment numbers. For every two people put on antiretroviral drugs, another five become newly infected. Education is, therefore, key to preventing the spread of HIV.”