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Here's how a community outreach project could help protect your employees from HIV

by , 26 November 2014
With 400 000 new infections each year, South Africa has a massive HIV problem. That's why implementing an HIV management system in your company is so important.

But what you might not realise is you shouldn't just target your employees when you set up this system. You should also target the communities around your company.

After all, when your employees leave work, they go back to their families and the communities where they live and this means they may still be at risk of contracting the disease.

That's why community outreach programmes can be such a massive advantage in your HIV management system. Here's how you can create and use a community outreach programme in your pursuit of HIV management...

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Reduce the impact of HIV on your workforce
How you may ask?
By educating your employees on:
How to prevent HIV;
How to prevent spreading it;
How to work with HIV or Aids; and
How to manage HIV or Aids.
You can minimise the effect their health and HIV status has on your business!

Four things you need to consider when creating an HIV community outreach programme

When you set out to create a community outreach programme to help fight HIV, you need to understand what outreach really is.
wecanchange.co.za defines outreach as 'providing services to populations who might not otherwise have access to those services.'
According to the site, as an outreach service provider, a key component of outreach is to never stationary. You need to be able to move from location to location offering your services wherever communities need them. 
With that in mind, you need to consider these four components of community outreach:
1. HIV education and training. You need to arrange venues and educators for this;
2. HIV counseling. You need venues and qualified counselors;
3. HIV testing. You need sanitary, mobile testing units and trained medical technicians to do the testing. 
4. Awareness programmes.
Because these all need to be mobile services, you need to consider how you can safely provide them to the various communities. 
Once you get all these logistics out the way, you'll be able to use your community outreach programme, not just to benefit the community but to benefit your company too.
Here's how…
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Do you want to be fined, jailed or have a criminal record for life?
If an accident occurs in your workplace, and the person dies, you could be charged with culpable homicide, charged penalties of R100 000 or 2 years in jail! The CEO or Owner of a company is personally accountable for health and safety at work. 

Here's how your HIV community outreach programme will benefit your company

Creating a community outreach programme can have far-reaching benefits for your company. For example, you educate your employees so they understand HIV and know how to protect themselves. 
But, if they go home to a community where everyone considers it normal to have sex with multiple partners, it will be hard for you to convince your employees to avoid this kind of risky behaviour.
By changing the way your employees' communities think about HIV, you can support the protection you offer your employees at work.  And you can further reduce your employees' chance of contracting HIV if you can help reduce the presence of HIV in their communities. 
Bottom line: Your HIV management programme may not succeed if you limit it just to your workplace because of the huge impact your employees' communities have on them. 
Create your community outreach programme or partner with existing outreach programmes to ensure your HIV management system works.
PS. To help you provide top notch HIV training, whether it's in your workplace or a community, we recommend you check out HIV – Training in a Box.

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