ICASA 2017 – Africa: Ending AIDS- delivering differently

We were excited to participate in the 19th International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa (ICASA), held between 4-9 December in Abidjan Cote d’ Ivoire. The conference brought together 7 000 of the world’s leading scientists, policymakers, activists, PLHIV, civil society representatives and government leaders to discuss how Africa could do things differently to end AIDS by 2030.

SWHAP was honoured to present posters on:

  1. The SWHAP Model: Joint consultation and collaboration for workplace policies by employer and worker representatives in East, Central and Southern Africa
  2. Introducing non-discrimination policies and programmes as an extension of highway corridor testing amongst truck drivers: a union employer partnership
  3. Why engaging men, women and gender transformative norms matters
  4. Relating HIV and AIDS knowledge levels to attitudes, behaviour and practice parameters at the workplace as indicators of impact of workplace HIV and AIDS programme interventions
  5. People living with HIV access to support, treatment and care: focus on SWHAP

The posters highlighted amongst other issues; the possibilities that exist for scaling-up programmes within sectors through partnerships between union and employer organisations; social dialogue as a tool for programme implementation; the need to engage men in workplaces and communities to tackle harmful gender norms that increase HIV transmission risk; and the importance of raising awareness on HIV as it reduces stigma and discrimination and increases rate of testing and uptake of prevention services.

SWHAP also conducted a radio interview with the Children’s Radio Foundation at the Community Village, discussing the private sector contribution to the HIV response and how workplace programmes help to deal with stigma and discrimination.

Some themes from the conference

Universal Healthcare Coverage –  New data is showing that at least half of the world’s population does not have access to essential health services. Universal Healthcare Coverage (UHC) means that everyone can have access to affordable quality healthcare. UHC is at the core of the HIV response and important for ending AIDS as a public health threat by 2030. Read more from GBC Health about how the private sector can play a part in scaling-up access to UHC.

Differentiated Care – The 90-90-90 Targets will require a near doubling of the number of people on treatment putting pressure on health facilities. Differentiated care aims to simplify and adapt HIV services to reflect the needs of the various groups of people living with HIV enabling them to access treatment closer to the community (where possible) – relieving pressure on health facilities. It involves tailoring the frequency and location of services as well as the type of health worker providing the services. Read more from Differentiated Care.

Male Engagement to end AIDS – “Men and boys are underrepresented in HIV services while being over-represented amongst AIDS deaths and a key part of the cycle of new HIV infections, a cycle which needs to urgently be broken to reduce new infections among adolescent girls and young women.” – Sonke Gender Justice and Men Engage Africa.

Some examples of how to engage men that were shared during the conference:

  • Through prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) programmes
  • Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision (VMCC) using community-based approaches to increase uptake
  • Increasing access to HIV self-testing
  • Workplace testing
  • Facility-based changes, for example, routine testing after hours, weekend testing and  increasing the number of male nurses or male healthcare providers
  • Venue-based outreach, for example at, sporting events and bars
  • Use of mass media and community mobilisation to transform gender norms, address risk perception and increase demand for testing and prevention services
  • Use of influencers to change community norms on masculinity

Read more from the UNAIDS report Blind Spot – Reaching out to men and boys

Leave no one behind – In 2016, 610 000 young people were newly infected with HIV, and in the last decade AIDS-related deaths among adolescents have increased (decreases have been observed in all other age groups). We need policy changes to help young people especially those from key populations to access sexual reproductive health information and services.

A session by GBC Health,  the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the African Youth Network (AfriYAN) provided a platform for governments, technical and financial partners, the private sector, civil society organizations, and young people to discuss investment opportunities for ending AIDS.

“We will not end AIDS without young people”- Michel Sidibé UNAIDS Executive Director

East Africa Conferences

In the run-up to World AIDS Day SWHAP organised two private sector conferences in Kenya and Tanzania. The objectives of the conferences were to; disseminate SWHAP experiences in engaging the private sector in the HIV and AIDS response; share best practice, and discuss sustainable financing of the HIV response.

In Kenya, SWHAP partnered with the Federation of Kenya Employers (FKE), the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the National Aids Control Council (NACC), bringing together 60 participants from 39 organisations. Under the theme, ‘Milestones and new opportunities in workplace HIV/AIDS and wellness programmes” conference delegates explored opportunities for new partnerships towards the national HIV response. In response to the high number of new infections amongst the youth, delegates also looked at the ways in which the private sector could help in stemming infections within this group. Participants discussed sustainable HIV financing in light of funding gaps exposed when the country crossed the lower-middle income threshold. Representatives from two organisations, Tamarind Translations Limited (a SWHAP partner) and Tata Chemicals Limited, presented case studies on their programmes looking at key success factors and how they were addressing challenges.

The conference was a success with participants agreeing to explore joint HIV and wellness initiatives for 2018 based on shared interests and structures.

Dr Nduku Kilonzo, Chief Executive Officer, National AIDS Control Council advocating for HIV testing at the workplace

The conference in Tanzania was held in collaboration with the Association of Tanzania Employers (ATE) and Trade Union Congress of Tanzania. Besides CEOs from various companies, the conference was attended by high profile delegates including the UNAIDS country representative, the Regional ILO Coordinator, the Director of the ATE, the Secretary General of TUCTA, the Director of the Tanzania Private Sector Foundation and the Director of the Tanzania Aids Commission.

Supply Chain and Mentorship Programmes in Zambia

Congratulations to Orica Zambia who launched their supply chain programme on 3 November in Kitwe. Orica is mentoring two companies, Tomarg Enterprises and Passcal Systems Limited to develop and implement comprehensive workplace HIV and wellness programmes guided by HIV and AIDS policies.

Orica invited the two companies to participate in its wellness activities on 9 November. The theme of the day was “Stop and Think Wellness” encouraging the 93 employees (20 from the mentorship programme) present to prioritise their health. Screening was conducted for malaria, blood pressure, blood sugar, HIV as well as breast cancer – 72% of employees participated in the tests. The wellness day was also used as an opportunity to sensitise the two mentee companies on the SWHAP mentorship programme and key deliverables.

Biometric tests during the Orica wellness day

The Atlas Copco Zambia Supply Chain Programme is progressing well. In November, staff sensitisation was held for three companies under the mentorship programme. In total 47 employees were empowered with information on HIV prevention.

HIV and wellness discussions at JCB

Scaling up HIV & AIDS Programmes – Union Employer Partnerships


In Kenya, the transport sector accounts for more than 30% of GDP. Long distance truck drivers and their assistants (loaders) are an integral part of the sector with their health affecting its profitability. Addressing HIV within this key population is a challenge with interventions looking at issues on transactional sex, multiple sex partners, and creation of opportunities for accessing services. Indeed, research has shown that in East Africa HIV prevalence for truckers is between 25% and 32%, which is in many cases more than double the national averages (kmcc.org.ug).

After noting structural barriers in this industry (lack of HIV policies, and conditions of service) that were making drivers more vulnerable to exposure to HIV, sexually transmitted infections and other conditions, SWHAP partnered with the Federation of Kenya Employers, the Kenya Long Distance Truck Drivers and Allied Workers Union and the International Labour Organization. The partnerships sought to engage the companies that employed the drivers to create support for HIV interventions at workplace level and contribute to a more sustainable response.

During two phases conducted in 2016 and 2017, 20 companies in the transport and allied sectors in Kenya were mentored to set up and implement workplace HIV and AIDS Programmes. This process included; management sensitisation for buy-in and support; selection and training of programme steering committees and peer educators; baseline knowledge, attitudes, behaviours and practices surveys; HIV and non-communicable disease awareness raising and testing for employees; and the development and dissemination of HIV policies promoting non-discrimination which upheld the rights of positive employees.

More than 75% of employees from the companies received information that helped them make more informed decisions about their health and provided tips on behaviour change strategies to mitigate against ill health. As a result of these health education sessions, 1 392 employees participated in HIV testing. All HIV positive employees were linked to care and treatment services.

Testing conducted during the second phase of the programme also involved truck drivers from other companies not involved in the programme as well as sex workers. In total an additional 4 186 truck drivers and sex workers were equipped with knowledge on HIV and AIDS, 3 888 got to know their HIV status and 83 557 condoms were distributed.

The companies involved in the programme were committed to the process, and progress was steady despite the political instability that prevailed especially during the implementation of the second phase. This project showed the possibilities for rapid scale-up of workplace programmes in the transport sector.


In Tanzania, management sensitisation was held for eight companies participating in the second mentorship programme involving the Association of Tanzania Employers (ATE) and the Trade Union Congress of Tanzania (TUCTA). The objective of the meeting was to promote understanding on HIV interventions at the workplace and to discuss the legal framework governing health and HIV. As a result of the sensitisation process, all eight companies agreed on further training for management in order to enhance understanding on the business case for investing in employee health. They have also agreed to establish steering committees which will advocate for HIV and wellness testing at the workplaces.


Wellness committee training was held for companies under the National Union of Building, Engineering and General Workers Union (NUBEGW) mentorship programme on 15 November. Training built capacity in the design and implementation of workplace programmes. This was followed by training for programme focal persons on 6 December. NUBEGW is an affiliate of the Zambia Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) and represents building, engineering and general workers. It has a membership of 15 463 including Atlas Copco and Sandvik employees.

World AIDS Day Youth Campaigns

According to AIDS Accountability, “ignorance and misinformation around HIV remains a key threat to the futures of young people” in Africa. They go on to say that only “39% of young men and 28% of young women aged between 15 and 24 in Sub-Saharan Africa have comprehensive information on HIV”.

In recognition of the barriers to accessing health services and information faced by young people, SWHAP and its partners in Kenya, Zimbabwe and DRC held events targeted at this group during the World AIDS Day commemorations. In Kenya, the events were in line with the national theme “Youth Na Plan” which sought to advocate for youth awareness on issues surrounding HIV and AIDS including prevention, treatment and care. The National Aids Control Council estimates that 29 percent of all new HIV infections in Kenya are among young people and adolescents (70 percent women and 30 percent men between the ages of 15 and 19).

Following the successful community dialogue held in Ngezi in August, SWHAP partnered again with Sandvik and Zimplats, this time to stimulate discussions on HIV amongst the youth. Topics discussed during the youth dialogue included; HIV, sexual reproductive health and rights and the impact of drug and substance abuse on HIV transmission. The young people identified the following challenges to HIV prevention; lack of parental guidance, cross-generational sex, multiple concurrent partnerships and incorrect condom use. Over 300 youth from Ngezi community attended the dialogue.

Discussions at the dialogue empowered young people with information on HIV prevention strategies, and skills to resist negative peer pressure. The young people were challenged to use abstinence as the first line of defence. They were also given tips on safe dating based on respect and the ability to communicate assertively.

Ericsson in partnership with SWHAP in the DRC organised a sports day with HIV sensitisation and HIV counselling and Testing as part of World AIDS Day activities at the Protestant University of Congo – 212 students were tested and received their results.

Building Capacity for HIV Prevention and Management

SWHAP uses the spousal peer education programmes to bridge the gap in access to HIV and health information and services between employees and their spouses. On 26 October and 6 November, SWHAP in the DRC held its first Spouse Peer Educator training workshop – 18 spouses from Atlas Copco, ABB, Ericsson and other SWHAP partners participated in the capacity building sessions. By the end of the training session, the spouses had enhanced capacity to protect themselves and their families against HIV transmission and also received information on breast cancer and gender-based violence.

In Zimbabwe, 46 spouses attended cancer and sexual reproductive health and rights training in line with cancer month commemorated in October.

Also in October, Peer Educators from the SWHAP network in Botswana and South Africa were equipped with skills for challenging harmful social norms related to gender through training workshops and gender dialogues.

Gender mainstreaming training in South Africa

Gender norms training Botswana

On 22 and 23 October, 15 Peer Educators from Lincoln, SSAB, Babcock and the Sandvik supply chain programme learnt new information and skills enabling them to cascade HIV and wellness information at their workplaces. The peer education training programme in South Africa is highly regarded as it a national qualification and contributes towards the awarding of training points at company level for the BBBEE scorecard.

Between October and December, Orange and Volvo in the DRC trained members of their HIV and wellness steering committees equipping them to steer and implement HIV prevention interventions and health promotion at the workplace and in the communities.

Orange also held a policy development workshop in mid-October and a sports day for female employees at the end of November. The objective of the sports day was to promote physical activity and improve health seeking behaviours.



On 29 November, 80 Peer Educators from different sectors in South Africa, including a traditional healers’ organisation, came together to discuss “Sustainable Business through Peer Education”. The seminar was in recognition of the valuable role played by Peer Educators in workplace programme advocacy and their role in promoting health within workplaces and communities.

Community Outreach Activities

Ericom Communications and Davies Granite Community Sports Day

Sporting events, in addition to promoting teamwork and collaboration, have previously been used by SWHAP and its partners to enhance access to testing for HIV. On Saturday 21 October, Ericom Communications, in partnership with their mentee company Davies Granite, held a community sports gala under the theme “Getting to Zero” to raise awareness on HIV, non-communicable diseases and the importance of exercise for good health. The sports day provided a platform for the companies to strategically use sport to reach out to workers and the wider community with messages on HIV prevention and behavioural change – promoting community uptake of HIV Counselling and Testing services.

Almost 2 000 community members turned up at Manyame Airbase Sports Club on the day to participate in soccer, netball, volleyball and tug of war matches that were interspersed with health messages and opportunities for testing. HIV testing and Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision services were provided by Manyame Hospital – 205 people were tested for HIV and two men were circumcised. Those testing positive for HIV were referred to treatment centres. Communities Against Drug and Substance Abuse (CADASA Trust Zimbabwe) also provided information on drug abuse and its link to HIV and AIDS, whilst the National AIDS Council provided information on HIV, sexually transmitted infections and non-communicable diseases.

Ericom Communications MD, Pat Cox, participating in female condom demonstration

Atlas Copco Botswana Community Outreach in Mahotswane

On 15 September, Atlas Copco Botswana came together with various stakeholders to provide access to clean water and non-communicable disease screening to residents of Mahotswane Village. Through their global Water for All initiative, Atlas Copco employees helped to raise P360 000 towards providing a regular source of water for the villagers. The announcement was made by Atlas Copco Managing Director, Mr Archie Seleka at the Mahotswane Primary School prize giving ceremony and community wellness day. Atlas Copco, who adopted Mahotswane Primary School in 2016, sponsored the prize giving day. Other stakeholders at the event were the Cancer Association who performed breast exams and Diabetes Botswana who conducted screening for diabetes, blood pressure and BMI: 77 people were screened.

Managing Stress at Ericsson DRC

While a certain amount of stress is normal, excessive stress interferes with productivity and is detrimental to employees’ physical and emotional health. In acknowledgement of the detrimental impact of workplace stress, Ericsson DRC held an education session on managing stress for its employees on 12 October.

This was an important initiative as the International Labour Organization has noted that in general, “many workers are facing greater pressure to meet the demands of modern working life. Psychosocial risks such as increased competition, higher expectations on performance and longer working hours are contributing to the workplace becoming an ever more stressful environment.”

SWHAP encourages an inclusive approach to managing HIV and AIDS that takes into account the different dimensions of health and wellbeing. And importantly for people living with HIV, stress affects health by weakening the immune system.

SKF Host Coordinator’s Meeting in Kenya

To encourage cost sharing and sustainability of programmes, companies in the SWHAP partnership are encouraged to host network meetings, where programme implementers can share experiences and gain inspiration for their programmes. On 28 September, SKF Kenya hosted a network meeting for workplace HIV and wellness coordinators that was attended by representatives from Atlas Copco, Oriflame, Scania, HemoCue, Tamarind Translations, Amazon Motors and Tetra Pak. Participants discussed challenges they were facing in the implementation of programmes and opportunities they saw for improvement.

Managing Diversity

The gender mainstreaming pilot studies showed that the process of mainstreaming gender into all core business areas (through the HIV and wellness programmes) intersects with other diversity issues such as race, sexual orientation, religion and ethnicity. As such it was important to address these issues in order to foster trust and partnerships for effective mainstreaming.

SWHAP in South Africa regularly holds diversity management training for SWHAP partners and encourages proactive efforts to manage diversity through programmes and activities that support and empower a diverse workforce using multicultural approaches (for example social dialogue). On 24 September which is National Heritage Day in South Africa, ABB celebrated the diversity of its workforce with a competition for the best cultural heritage attire. On 21 November, SWHAP partners from Babcock, Volvo, Quant (ABB), Sandvik, Lincoln (SKF) and Hydroscand built capacity to manage diversity for sustainable business through a workshop held with the University of South Africa.

Celebrating Heritage Day at ABB – Winners of best Heritage attire with their prizes