Anglo American plc with its subsidiaries, joint ventures and associates is a global leader in the mining and natural resources sectors. It has significant and focused interests in gold, platinum, diamonds, coal, base and ferrous metals, industrial minerals and forest products, as well as financial and technological strength. The Group is geographically diverse, with operations and developments in Africa, Europe, South and North America and Australia. Anglo American represents a powerful world of resources.
For the past twelve years the Anglo American Corporation has been actively involved in addressing issues related to HIV/AIDS.
The first case of HIV infection in an Anglo American employee was diagnosed in 1986, and since then companies associated with Anglo American have developed and implemented comprehensive AIDS prevention programmes. These programmes have evolved over time, and in line with current international thinking are now based on three fundamentals - education (using a peer educator approach), condom distribution and effective treatment of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
Companies within the group are encouraged to develop detailed programmes to meet the needs of their particular workforces and environments. In addition to providing AIDS prevention programmes for their employees, many companies have elected to involve the wider community in AIDS prevention and have trained health workers, school teachers, housewives, youth representatives and traditional healers as peer educators.
Condoms are made available not only at medical facilities but in a wide range of places including bars, hostels and change houses and in most cases they are made available free of charge. Companies generally provide free STD treatment for employees using a syndromic management approach, and attempts have been made to provide similar treatment for the casual sexual partners of employees through company clinics and by supporting community-based projects.
Research carried out in a number of companies shows that AIDS programmes have been very successful in raising levels of AIDS awareness, and in many cases have also resulted in an increased demand for condoms, and in some cases to a decline in the incidence of STDs.
For some years the Corporation has had a full-time AIDS Adviser who advises companies on the need for AIDS prevention and management programmes and assists them to develop appropriate responses within their respective organisations.
In addition to the work done in individual companies, the Corporation's social responsibility programme has provided funding for many community-based organisations involved in AIDS prevention and care programmes.
Over the past twelve years companies within the Anglo American group have spent many millions of Rands on the development and implementation of AIDS prevention programmes and on the care and support of people living with HIV and AIDS.
During the 1990's Anglo American developed a comprehensive HIV/AIDS programme that covered both prevention and care of its employees suffering from HIV/AIDS. In the Anglo American Safety, Health and Environmental Report of 2001 this was published as a strategy comprising the following key elements:
HIV/AIDS wellness programmes are an integral part of the care and support that are provided for individuals that are infected with HIV. The elements of these programmes now comprise:
Anglo American's pioneering work in the field of policy and advocacy on HIV/AIDS has been recognised by a Commonwealth award for action on HIV/AIDS in 2001.
Treatment of HIV/AIDS
On 6 August 2002, Anglo American announced further steps in its HIV/AIDS strategy providing anti-retroviral therapy to employees with HIV/AIDS.
Operating companies are now being encouraged to enhance their HIV/AIDS wellness programmes by making ART available at company expense to HIV positive employees who do not have an ART benefit through a medical aid scheme and who have progressed to a stage of HIV infection where ART is clinically indicated. These companies will consult with both trade unions and government on issues relating to implementation.
The progressive rollout will be coordinated across the group using available health care facilities and according to well-defined protocols with rigorous monitoring and evaluation. The pace of the rollout will vary at company level depending, inter alia, on the availability of suitable company health infrastructure. The first steps on a pilot basis have already been signalled in terms of the AngloGold/Union and Association agreement on HIV/AIDS signed on 25 July 2002.
It is accepted internationally that the magnitude of the health challenge posed by HIV/AIDS, especially in southern Africa, is such that it cannot be adequately addressed by individual companies or even sectors acting in isolation but requires a partnership between all stakeholders. Anglo American and its operating companies will, therefore, seek to work with national and provincial governments and local authorities, international donors such as the Global Fund, and appropriate NGOs and communities in order that the public sector capacity is created to extend ART delivery beyond the workplace to the broader community, including dependents of employees and retired employees, who do not belong to medical aid schemes with an ART benefit.
The costs to individual operating companies will depend on the level of HIV prevalence, the rate of uptake by employees meeting the clinical criteria for ART and on the prices and types of drugs prescribed. It is anticipated that the prices of drugs will fall significantly as usage increases and/or generic alternatives become available.
The operating companies expect to derive benefits from their HIV programmes through extending the lives of infected employees and containing future AIDS related costs, including absenteeism, medical expenses, pension benefits and the recruitment and training costs required to replace employees who become too ill to work.
Finally, operating companies within the Anglo American Group will continue to promote their substantial education and prevention programmes as it is vital to ensure that the large majority of our employees who are HIV negative remain so. One of the key benefits of a comprehensive strategy with an emphasis on voluntary counselling and testing is that it promotes the individual behavioural change that is essential to turn the tide of the AIDS epidemic.