The Jamaica Employers' Federation (JEF) has confirmed that 22 organizations have joined hands, formalizing their consent to weed out the stigma and discrimination associated with AIDS in the working environment.
Teaming up with the Health and labor companies, the employers group has been conducting workshops for the companies that believe in instituting policies to combat HIV/AIDS discrimination. Creation of the national business council is also on the anvil, mainly to liaise with the governmental and non-governmental organizations to take the agenda of the national AIDS programme forward.
It is estimated that 20,000 or more Jamaicans are HIV positive, the vulnerable group being the 15 to 49 age group. Alarmingly, one among four in the workplace is HIV positive. A February 2006 survey spearheaded by the JEF has found that 62 per cent of the approximate 23,000 employees in the companies were not protected by HIV-related workplace policies. The grim scenario is best reflected with the finding that 13% of the organizations surveyed were upfront about not hiring applicants who revealed their HIV status.