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Home > Business > PTI > Report

AIDS to hurt Indian biz in 5 yrs, says WEF

September 15, 2005 15:32 IST

With India having the second largest number of HIV/AIDS-afflicted in the world after South Africa, half of Indian businesses, which participated in a survey by the World Economic Forum, believe the pandemic will have an impact on their business in the next five years.

The 56 Indian businesses surveyed in 2004-05 expressed some concern over the impact of HIV/AIDS. Of these, 46 per cent report some current effect of the virus on their company, with 14 per cent reporting 'serious effects.'

"When asked about expected future impacts, moreover, concern is slightly greater, with 50 per cent expecting an effect on the business in the next five years," the WEF said in its first-ever survey of the Asian business response to the pandemic.

HIV/AIDS is causing more concern than both tuberculosis and malaria, and, although they believe the effects on the community will be greater than those on firms, Indian companies are slightly more concerned than other firms in the South and South-East Asia region, 'Business and HIV/AIDS in Asia: Pushing Back the Tide,' released during the just-concluded China Business Summit 2005 here, said. Indian firms are confident that their responses to the disease will effectively limit its damage.

Among firms with HIV/AIDS policies, 78 per cent believe those policies will be sufficient, with 43 per cent strongly confident. These figures are similar in magnitude to the regional average.

However, India has a higher proportion of respondent firms with some form of policy than any of the other 15 Asian countries, the report noted.

However, India has a higher proportion of respondent firms with some form of policy than any of the other 15 Asian countries, the report noted.

Among Indian companies, 18 per cent have a written HIV/AIDS policy, and a further 23 per cent have an informal policy.

Indian firms, then, are concerned about the impact of HIV/AIDS, and have begun to act to protect themselves. The proportion with written policies has risen from 11 per cent to 18 per cent since 2003-2004, although informal programmes remain more common, the WEF survey said.

"Firms are confident that their existing activities will help them fend off the virus, and their relatively high level of concern over the disease offers hope that they will avoid complacency in the future," it said.

In its preface, Medical Advisor of Reliance Industries Limited, Shrinivas Shanbhag notes that HIV/AIDS has a significant economic impact on business and economies.

Reliance has entered into collaboration with the government of Gujarat and non-governmental organisations to create unique public-private partnerships in combating the deadly diseases, he said.

"Based on Reliance's experience, we would say that it is important for more and more businesses to keep stepping up to the challenge," he said, adding that the social and economic well-being of India will depend on this and businesses like Reliance have an important role to play.

The report also points out that after South Africa, India has the highest number of people living with HIV/AIDS in the world. Adult prevalence has reached 0.9 per cent and, according to UNAIDS, six of India's 35 states have "generalised epidemics" where prevalence among pregnant women exceeds one per cent.

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