Standard Chartered’s Living with HIV initiative is the Bank’s global HIV and AIDS education programme that aims to reduce the number of new HIV infections as well as address the stigma associated with HIV. The Bank’s own “HIV Champions” – a cross functional team of trained volunteers – conduct programmes in various forums to realise these aims, and in 2012 alone they have carried their message to over 4000 people, dedicating 170 staff hours to training.
Aruni Goonetilleke, Country Chief Risk Officer and Manco Champion for Living with HIV, commenting on the initiative of the Bank, said: “Educating people enables them to avoid risky behaviour and also dispels the myths that drive stigma. So far, globally, we have educated 1.4 million people, and have partner pledges of over 2 million. In Sri Lanka, Standard Chartered was the lead organization in the formation of the Lanka Business Coalition for HIV/AIDS (LBCH), and we are committed to continuing our efforts to prevent the spread of the virus.”
Standard Chartered’s HIV Champions conduct the awareness sessions free of charge to other corporates, schools, communities, and to their own staff at induction. In addition, the Bank shares its education materials, free of charge, to partner organizations for their own in-house use. This includes e-Learning and face-to-face workshop guidelines. In return, the Bank requests that partner organizations commit to educate an agreed number of employees.
Recent reports indicate that the virus is spreading locally at the rate of one new infection per day, with two new HIV cases being reported a week. Infection in 82.5% of the reported cases is by way of heterosexual transmission, with those in the 15 to 49 age group being the most vulnerable. The Western Province has the highest (61%) HIV/AIDS cases by province of residence. “The virus is spreading, and the rate of its virulence, should be a cause for concern. We must not be complacent and should all address our efforts to ensuring that HIV infections are on a downward trend. Standard Chartered’s volunteers are a resource accessible to all, and we hope more will join us in our fight against the virus” said Anirvan Ghosh Dastidar, Chief Executive Officer, Standard Chartered.