Feature story

The International Labour Organization launches “Getting to Zero at Work” campaign

29 November 2012

L to R: Luiz Loures, UNAIDS Director of Political and Public Affairs; Margaret Chan, WHO Director-general; and Guy Ryder, ILO Director-General, holding a chart during the launch of the campaign showing that the likelihood of employment for people living with HIV increases with access to HIV treatment. Geneva, Switzerland

The International Labour Organization (ILO), together with UNAIDS and the World Health Organization, launched on 27 November the “Getting to Zero at Work” campaign to promote the rights of people living with HIV in the workplace. The initiative recognizes the vital role that the world of work plays in the response to AIDS.

“The United Nations is leading by example through its own workplace policies,” said ILO Director-General, Guy Ryder. “Today, we must all together, governments, employers’ and workers’ organizations and other stakeholders, recommit to protecting the human rights of people living with HIV so that they may enjoy the right to work free from discrimination.”

More than 30 million people living with HIV who are of working age still face a high level of discrimination, according to the ILO. This prevents or limits their access to jobs as well as HIV services. Recent evidence shows that providing access to HIV prevention and treatment increases productivity and bring back people to work.

Today, we must all together, governments, employers’ and workers’ organizations and other stakeholders, recommit to protecting the human rights of people living with HIV so that they may enjoy the right to work free from discrimination

ILO Director-General, Guy Ryder

“Zero AIDS-related deaths and zero new HIV infections are realistic goals. The most challenging objective is zero discrimination,” said Luiz Loures, UNAIDS Director of Political and Public Affairs. “The ILO’s efforts to get to zero discrimination at Work are critical for an effective response to AIDS. The workplace is the most effective place to protect the human rights of workers and ensure a safe and supportive environment for people living with and affected by HIV.”

Margaret Chan, WHO Director-general, highlighted the important role that health workers play standing on the frontline of the AIDS response: “If countries are to achieve universal access to HIV services, one of their first steps must be to ensure that all health workers have access to effective and affordable HIV prevention, treatment and care."

The “Getting to zero at work” campaign aims to promote the ILO Recommendation No.200, the first international labour standard on HIV and AIDS in the world of work adopted in 2010.  The ILO standard provides sound guidance on addressing HIV through the promotion of human rights, job security and enhancing access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support services from a workplace perspective.