Today is World Aids Day. Is there anything new that can be said? I found the chapter on Aids in Bill Easterly's "White Man's Burden" insightful. He criticizes the aid industry for being too focused on treatment, which is expensive but makes for good press. Because prevention is less glamorous it has received relatively less attention.
In contrast, private companies - which are spending their own money - focus heavily on prevention in their employee health programs. This came through loud and clear at an IFC Against AIDS conference I attended in Johannesburg recently, where companies shared experiences about their HIV/Aids programs. Clifford Barnett, joint managing director of Cape Town's SA Metal, has been quoted as saying:
In business, you try not to have surprises. By employing an HIV prevention program, we don't have surprises like suddenly finding out that we've got 20 people who are HIV positive, and they are going off work and not coming back.
Similarly in India several IFC-supported companies are proactively addressing AIDS primarily through prevention. The role played by private companies in providing funding and management capacity to deliver AIDS prevention programs to their workers and the communities in which they live hasn't received enough attention.