Via CEO’s spurn condoms, HIV/AIDS tests. 15 June 2014
ZIMBABWE’S rich and mighty, among them top company executives, are said to be avoiding voluntary HIV/Aids testing as well as buying condoms over the counter fearing they might be labelled promiscuous.
Swedish Workplace HIV and AIDS Programme Regional Coordinator Edith Maziofa-Tapfuma said the conspicuous but promiscuous individuals have sought secret means of obtaining the life-saving rubber.
Some of the bosses are said to be so timid that they even abandon free condoms at their disposal in bathrooms exclusive to them in company premises.
“A lot of top executives and management are unwilling to go for HIV testing and counselling because of the type of services that are available,” Maziofa-Tapfuma said in an interview withNewZimbabwe.com.
“I have long been advocating for executive VCT centres, completely private and open up to midnight where they just walk in and get tested.
“I have lots of CEOs who said to me ‘Edith, the condom is not accessible for an executive at my level; I have a private bathroom in my office, where my PA and cleaner are responsible for refilling the condom dispenser but I am afraid if I take them they will suspect that I am having an affair since I am a married man’.”
Because of their concerns, Maziofa-Tapfuma said, it was time Zimbabwe took a leaf from other countries such as Uganda where CEOs have their own counselling and testing centres.
Although one’s HIV status is information shared between the testing centre and the client, the centres however remain public places easily accessible by everyone, much to the discomfort of public figures.
Free condoms have also been distributed within workplaces through the so-called HIV and AIDS Workplace Wellness Programmes for Private Sector Companies in Zimbabwe.
The contraceptives are usually deliberately placed where they are easily accessible by workers who are also encouraged to attend HIV testing in groups and to disclose their status thereafter.
A baseline survey on companies such as British American Tobacco, Colcom, Hippo Valley Estates, OK Zimbabwe and Diariboard has shown that their wellness policies and programmes are at different levels of implementation.
The companies have also ensured that all such interventions are gender sensitive and non-discriminatory after it was noted that HIV and AIDS affected men and women differently due to biological, socio-economic and economic reasons.
These policies and wellness programmes help management take care of its employees and ensure it responds positively to the demands.
The programmes being implemented include condom promotion, VCT, PMTCT, antenatal health care services ART, education and training programmes, care support and social dialogue platforms.
Taking up the programme has allowed companies to invest in the health of their employees, something that has also been proven to be a loss reduction mechanism for the companies.