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World AIDS Day in South Africa: Sharing solutions and successes

As World AIDS Day on 1 December approaches and we are reminded of the devastating pandemic that is HIV and AIDS, the Tsebo Group continues to encourage South African corporates to share solutions, encourage efforts to reduce the spread of HIV and tackle the issue head-on with their staff.

Says Alan Brand, Tsebo OUTSOURCING GROUP’s Group Wellness Manager (HIV/AIDS): “The recent announcement of two top South African scientists – husband and wife team, professors Salim and Quarraisha Karim – successfully producing a gel that protects four out of 10 women from HIV infection is an amazing leap forward, and evidence that we are all working to find solutions in South Africa.

“This year’s theme – ‘Universal Access and Human Rights’ – is one close to the hearts of our company’s management. The Group firmly believes that corporates must take a holistic view on HIV and AIDS in order to offer their staff and their clients solutions. Working together, we can achieve so much more.”

Brand highlights the Tsebo Outsourcing Group’s commitment to ongoing initiatives, which include meals that help to build up the immune system. “In feeding over a million people a day, the Group is aware that many are immuno-compromised. In a groundbreaking approach in 2004, Fedics – one of three primary operating divisions in the Tsebo Outsourcing Group – became the first South African company specifically to create and offer nutritionally enhanced menus designed to boost the immune systems of people living with HIV and AIDS.”

According to Brand, workplace programmes that simply provide ARV treatment without ensuring a holistic employee wellness management approach will result in a greater chance that patients will become non-compliant.

The development and implementation of the Tsebo Outsourcing Group’s AIDS Management Programme has seen Brand and his team of peer educators continue to increase awareness of HIV/AIDS among Tsebo staff. Living openly with his HIV status, Brand has worked tirelessly to change the mindsets and prejudices’ of many, pioneering Tsebo’s business to business approach in addressing the nutritional needs of people living with HIV and AIDS.

How important is this work? “Vital, for our citizens and our economy,” Brand says. Quoting a 2010 UNAIDS report, he says an estimated 5.6 million people were living with HIV and AIDS in South Africa in 2009, more than in any other country. It is also estimated that 310 000 South Africans died of AIDS in 2009.

“These figures are horrendous. We need to be aware every day, not only on World AIDS Day. But every time we read about a success in the field of HIV and AIDS research, whether in reducing transmission, finding medical solutions or teaching people how to protect themselves and their families, we feel it’s a victory for every South African.”

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