The New Humanitarian Annual Report 2021

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AIDS costs retailer millions

The South African food and clothing retailer, Woolworths, has revealed that 6 percent of its 13,500 workforce are HIV-positive.

Although the figure is considerably lower than the prevalence rate in the general population (27.9 percent), HIV/AIDS was exposing the retailer to considerable costs, said medical consultant Tony Davidson.

He told a local newspaper, Business Day, that AIDS was costing Woolworths US $1.9 million annually, but was set to peak at over $3.7 million in 2007.

Davidson said the company's HIV/AIDS programme included free drugs for fulltime employees, but the decision to provide treatment had been made "because it was the right thing to do", rather than because it would be cost effective.

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information:

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