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Nearly half of
world’s companies expect AIDS impact

Nearly half of
world’s companies expect AIDS impact

The growing scale of the global AIDS epidemic is matched by increasing concern of companies around the world, with 46% saying they expect the disease to have some impact on their operations in the next five years, according to a World Economic Forum report released on Wednesday. A WEF survey just one year ago found that 37% of businesses foresaw an impact on their bottom line.

"It's in managers' faces now. Staff are getting sick, more are off work to attend funerals, and it's getting harder to operate businesses," said Harvard School of Public Health professor David Bloom, lead author of the WEF report.

With a record 4.9 million new infections last year and an estimated 40.3 million HIV-positive people worldwide, the impact of the disease could crush economies and workforces. While almost half of the 11,000 corporate leaders surveyed in 117 countries acknowledged that AIDS could affect their businesses in the future, only 9% have assessed the quantitative risks involved.

Businesses that have formal policies in place are found most often in regions where HIV prevalence exceeds one in five of the population. Where HIV incidence is lower, just 20% of companies have instituted policies, often informally.

WEF Global Health Initiative director Francesca Boldrini urged more companies to develop clear plans to prevent and treat HIV. (Reuters)

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