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CAMBRIDGE, MA –The HIV/AIDS epidemic must be confronted as a disease having disastrous impact on fragile economies across the world according to the "HIV/AIDS and Business in Africa and Asia: A Guide to Partnerships," an innovative resource for businesses, governments, and NGOs released this week by Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.
HIV/AIDS is most commonly thought of as a disease wreaking havoc on human lives. But governments and businesses increasingly realize that AIDS can cripple the economic development of entire countries and regions since it typically strikes individuals during their most productive years. For many companies, AIDS has become a bottom line business issue. The "Guide to Partnerships," providing practical tools for the business community in countries confronting HIV/AIDS, is the result of four groundbreaking workshops convened by Harvard University, UNAIDS and the World Economic Forum in Cambridge, MA, Durban, South Africa, and Beijing, China in 2003.
Current HIV/AIDS statistics illustrate the urgency: 42 million people globally live with HIV/AIDS. In South Africa, one out of five adults is infected, including up to 30% of the mining workforce. Unless effective responses take hold rapidly, estimates of predicted prevalence rates for China by 2010 range between 10 to 15 million; the corresponding range for India is 20 to 25 million people.
John Ruggie, Weil director of the Kennedy School's Center for Business and Government explains, "Unless China acts decisively, it will find itself on an African trajectory, just 15 years behind. In Africa, governments and businesses are looking back at what they should and could have done - in China, there is still time to avert the worst-case scenario."
By bringing together the views of academic experts from several disciplines, senior business managers, government officials, representatives of civil society organizations and multilateral institutions, "Guide to Partnerships" focuses on concrete actions that need to be taken by stakeholders.
The Guide includes illustrative examples of partnerships, a selection of guiding tools, and a bibliography of materials relevant to the economic impacts of HIV/AIDS. The Guide demonstrates that:
Companies do not have the luxury of waiting: HIV/AIDS requires immediate action;
Prevention and treatment in the workplace make business sense;
Businesses possess expertise and skills that could greatly assist the fight against HIV/AIDS;
Businesses can forge effective partnerships with other social actors.
The "Guide to Partnerships" was chiefly developed by Diana Barrett of the Initiative on Social Enterprise at Harvard Business School. The Guide can be accessed and downloaded in PDF format on the Kennedy School's Center for Business and Government web site: www.ksg.harvard.edu/cbg/hiv-aids/ . It can also be accessed through the Global Health Initiative (tools for partnering) section of the World Economic Forum's website.