Under prevention and awareness, proven methods have been implemented, which include over 1200 peer educators and experiential theatre. Employees watch a monthly “soap opera” that addresses subjects ranging from human rights violations to community stigma, followed by peer educators expanding on these topics and stimulating debate.
Eskom’s stated mission is a commitment to managing the impact of HIV/AIDS through integrated response strategies, which aim at empowering people and enhancing the sustainability of the business. Response strategies include:
- Self-awareness “know your status”
- Addressing the policies and practices such as recruitment, promotion, remuneration, benefits and procurement, that are impacted by the disease
- Identification of high risk areas
- Education and training initiatives beyond awareness
- Care and support of HIV positive employees, including the treatment of TB, sexually transmitted diseases and other opportunistic infections
- Information management
- Communication of the surveillance study, the economic impact analysis and the response strategies to all employees in the organisation, in a structured way.
Where testing is concerned, Eskom contributes to the costs of VCT. Care and support includes psycho-socio support and access to antiretroviral therapy under Eskom’s medical scheme through approved HIV clinicians and TB monitoring.
Eskom is also involved with the development of an AIDS vaccine. The organisation has donated over R100 million to the South African AIDS Vaccine Initiative (SAAVI). Set up by Eskom and the South African government to develop and test an affordable, effective and locally relevant preventative HIV vaccine for Southern Africa, SAAVI has grown into a global leader and now co-ordinates the activities of approximately 175 people involved in scientific development, clinical trials, immunological assessment, ethical protocols and community education activities. Eskom has also invested R6 million over 3 years into the Foundation for Professional Development (FPD), an organisation that trains and develops primary care level medical professionals and managers on all aspect of HIV healthcare. To date, 5 200 health workers have been trained through this programme.