KUALA LUMPUR: A senior employee has announced initiatives to overcome the workplace's discrimination against employees with HIV / AIDS, saying they are changing the strategies to deal with the problem.
The secretary-general secretary of Asean for the Association of Social Community of Kung Phoak Awareness said in the past, efforts to address discrimination against such people were mainly at social level and focused on providing a support network for them.
"But now we're talking about how workers affected can do their jobs, such as ensuring job creation, and how to give them opportunities to progress in their careers," he said to FMT.
He added that the Asean region has seen many advances to ensure the right treatment of workers with HIV / AIDS.
He also noted a decrease in the number of HIV cases in Southeast Asia.
He said that workplace guidelines for safe practices and the prevention of HIV / AIDS along with policies to address discrimination against those with the disease were introduced two years ago and according to all 10 Asean member states.
Since then, many companies in the region have adopted the guidelines and have made efforts to initiate programs to help those with HIV / AIDS.
"We are talking about making the guidelines mandatory, but we must first study the matter. We can not act quickly," he said, adding that proper cost-benefit analysis should be made.
Meanwhile, the Malaysian minister of AIDS Bakhtiar Talhah told FMT that the intention of the ministry's human resources to look at the implementation of anti-regulatory rules for workers with HIV / AIDS was a step in the right direction.
He added that it is encouraging to see companies like Petronas, by stepping up HIV-positive employees.
"They even pay your treatment if necessary. But there is still a long way to go. Not many private companies still do that," he said.
He said that the council received many complaints from people who lost their jobs due to their HIV status.
In spite of this, he added, not all cases of enterprise discrimination would be reported.
"There are 100,000 cases identified by HIV in Malaysia. Most of them work, and many are silent and hide so their employers and colleagues do not know.
"They are afraid that if their employees or colleagues find out, they may lose their jobs."
Some companies also carry out a HIV maintenance program in spite of the fact that this is not a mandatory practice, he said.
"We even have cases of students denied scholarships or places at university because they are HIV-positive."
Bakhtiar added that newer cases of HIV seemed to influence people between 18 and 30 years.
"These are people who are productive, young and full of energy. Why are we reluctant to hire them just because they are HIV-positive?"