5 Things Employers Can Do To Help End HIV
Ending the HIV epidemic in the United States is finally within our reach, but it will require all sectors of society, including employers, working together to ensure that the most powerful HIV prevention and treatment tools in history reach those who need them the most.
At our National Employers Summit to End HIV, experts offered guidance on the pivotal role employers can play in ending HIV. Here are their recommendations to tackle the issue head-on:
1. Addressing HIV within your workplace is a way to take action on equity.
“HIV is an equity issue,” said Dr. Robyn Neblett Fanfair, acting director for the division of HIV prevention at the Centers for Disease Control. “Taking it on as a corporate priority is a chance to take concrete action on issues of health equity by addressing stigma, increasing access to health services and creating innovative solutions that can fill gaps.”
She continued, “Today we have the opportunity to end America's HIV epidemic by making investments in innovative approaches to reach people where they are, with what they need, especially disproportionately impacted populations in America. All of our efforts must inherently support and promote health equity, and seek to de-stigmatize HIV, testing, prevention and care.”
2. Provide comprehensive health insurance and benefits coverage that supports HIV detection, prevention, treatment, and care.
Tracy Watts, Senior Partner and National Leader for U.S. Health Policy at Mercer, reinforced the fact that “all employees rely on their employers to provide comprehensive medical coverage. And it's even more important for HIV, specifically as it relates to screening for preventive care and treatment.”
In addition to providing insurance, employers have an opportunity to strengthen the benefits they offer to support an inclusive workplace culture. One benefit she specifically highlighted was providing flexible time off for medical appointments.“That's really important,” Watts said. “We need to be able to support the need for ongoing lab work and doctors appointments, and that flexibility goes a long way towards supporting that.”
3. Protect employees and fight stigma by strengthening HIV-related workplace nondiscrimination policies.
Apart from specific benefits, Watts reinforced that employers can help employees feel protected by strengthening workplace confidentiality and nondiscrimination policies. You may even want to establish your own workplace policy on HIV. (Here is a sample to get you started).
4. Engage employees in HIV education and outreach to create a supportive, inclusive environment for everyone.
Offering employee education programs will ensure that everyone in your organization has the latest information and facts about HIV. This will help reduce stigma and discrimination in the workplace.
Stephanie Aguilar from Paramount Pictures shared that over the past 35 years, the company has demonstrated its commitment to educating and engaging its workforce. Whether it's joining the annual AIDS walk, attending a lunch-and-learn about HIV or connecting with a local HIV organization, Aguilar shared that, “there are always opportunities for the Paramount family to learn from experts, become empowered and continue the conversation.”
5. Collaborate with local public health departments, community organizations or other private sector partners to fill gaps in HIV service delivery.
Businesses have a unique opportunity to support local communities most impacted by HIV by leveraging their unique expertise, infrastructure and capabilities to fill gaps in public health delivery.
Brad McElya from Walgreens shared how the company did just that by recently partnering with Uber and DoorDash to provide same-day delivery for HIV prevention and treatment to those within 15 miles of a Walgreens, eliminating transportation and access barriers to vital treatment. “It's amazing what you can do when you start thinking outside of the box, keeping individuals at the forefront of your mind,” McElya said. “You can actually make a pretty big difference.”
Download Free Resources: The Health Action Alliance has released a suite of free employer resources to help guide your engagement in this work:
- Ending the HIV Epidemic - A Guide for Employers
- Sample Letter from Leadership
- Sample Workplace Policy on HIV
Join the Health Action Alliance’s new coalition - U.S. Business Action to End HIV
- Be part of a community of companies committed to ending the domestic HIV epidemic and addressing health equity. Together, we’ll learn, innovate and collaborate across industries to achieve the greatest impact. Learn more at healthaction.org/endhiv