Practical Solutions for Keeping HIV/AIDS Off the Job Site
Including HIV provisions in existing health and safety monitoring systems helps ensure that companies implement HIV prevention contract clauses and provides them with guidance on how to do so.
Starting initial advocacy work in the preconstruction period allows access to managers and key staff when they are less busy and helps avoid possible tension during peak construction periods.
Extending the concept of “peer education” to include “peer leaders”, such as foremen and site monitors, who are more likely to remain and carry on advocacy work throughout the construction period.
A visual Introduction
Establishing a mandatory worksite induction which includes a viewing of a training DVD is an opportunity to ensure all workers receive basic and accurate HIV and AIDS information.
Knowing your audience
Information materials should be tailored for the construction sites, both in terms of messages and type. After noticing that the workers were always playing cards, the project team decided to include HIV and AIDS information on playing cards. Because research showed that clients of sex workers often care more about placing their families at risk themselves, a poster was developed by the project team, depicting a letter written by a worker to his family back home. Written in simple language, the letter assures them that is taking care of himself.
Driving the point home
Speaking to workers individually or in small groups, often in the form of short interactive exercises in informal settings, allowed educators to stimulate discussion on specific issues.
Setting a good example
The behavior of individuals is often influenced less by knowledge and more by the behavior of their peers and role models. The biggest challenge to reinforcing safe behavior on the construction sites, was drunkenness. As a solution, peer leaders gave refresher talks before major social events and holidays. Foremen were also encouraged to come to the worksite with their wives to set a good example.
Providing general health education
Including education and testing on other health problems together with HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted infections can:
- Increase efficiency
- Increase the interest of the workers
- Help to de-stigmatize HIV/AIDS as a disease
Promoting HIV testing
Aside from encouraging people living with HIV to practice safe behavior, a key strategy for prevention is for people to know their HIV status. Oral HIV testing kits offer the opportunity for voluntary low-cost unobtrusive testing on construction sites for all workers.
The project team found that the best assessment results came from mixed methods such as short and simple surveys and focus group discussions. Though they provide less “hard data”, the approach offers more accurate insights into change.
The views expressed in these articles are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Asian Development Bank, its management, its Board of Directors, or its members.