Rio Tinto is a world leader in finding, mining and processing the earth's mineral resources. The Group's worldwide operations supply essential minerals and metals that help meet global needs and contribute to improvements in living standards. Major products include: aluminum, copper, diamonds, energy products (coal and uranium), gold, industrial minerals (borax, talc, salt and titanium dioxide) and iron ore. The Group's activities span the world but are strongly represented in Australia and North America with significant businesses in South America, Asia, Europe and southern Africa.
Rio Tinto has developed a global HIV/AIDS strategy in response to the social and economic issues raised by this epidemic. This strategy is being implemented initially in the southern African business units.
We value the wellness of our employees, and believe wellness can be significantly heightened in HIV/AIDS prevalent regions, by providing affordable access for employees and their nominated partner to HIV/AIDS treatment and programs (including antiretroviral therapy).
Rio Tinto's response to HIV/AIDS draws upon the International Labor Organization (ILO) Code of Good Practice on HIV/AIDS. Discrimination towards employees on the basis of real or perceived HIV status is not tolerated. The confidentiality of all information on the HIV status and condition of employees and community members is strictly upheld. In HIV prevalent regions, HIV/AIDS screening is not undertaken during recruitment or as a condition of employment.
The Rio Tinto HIV/AIDS strategy is founded on four key elements:
Prevention, awareness and education programs play an integral role in protecting employees and their communities from future infection, whilst also breaking down stigmas and misconceptions surrounding the disease.
Voluntary counseling and testing is considered the cornerstone of the strategy. Employees who are currently HIV negative are counseled on how to retain wellness. Those who are positive are encouraged to enroll on a wellness program, which includes the provision of antiretroviral therapy when medically appropriate.
Implementation of the HIV/AIDS strategy is monitored in all locations and evaluated regularly to ensure quality service provision. It will also be reviewed in light of the changing global thinking on HIV/AIDS.
In addition to the employee based Strategy discussed, each business unit in southern Africa is supporting community health through partnerships and health promotion and awareness program. A good example of this is seen in work undertaken in Phalaborwa.
A Ba-Phalaborwa HIV/AIDS Awareness Program was established in the region at the beginning of 2001, and is funded by Palabora, the Limpopo Province Department of Health, Foskor, Sasol Nitro and the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund. The project commenced with a baseline study to determine the impact of the epidemic. The Program is run by a Chief Professional Nurse, seconded from the Department of Health, with the aim of creating an awareness of the effect of HIV/AIDS and providing support for those who are infected.
The Program aims to use an effective HIV/AIDS management system to minimize the impact of HIV/AIDS in the community. The Program contains the following components:
The project is largely run out of the Palabora Foundation Community Clinic, and utilizes the support structure of over 100 volunteers, local government and non-government organizations. The Ba-Phalaborwa HIV/AIDS Awareness Program was voted the best coordinated Program of the Mopani region in 2002.