HIV/AIDS Awareness

Ambatovy is committed to fighting the spread of HIV/AIDS in nearby communities and among its workforce by building awareness and other prevention-related activities. HIV/AIDS is different from many diseases in that it often strikes people during their most productive years, giving it the potential to create severe social problems and distress.

HIV/AIDS Prevention

The prevalence of HIV/AIDS in Madagascar is relatively low, below 1% across all population groups[1]. However, several factors – including risky sexual behaviour (particularly among youth), increased unemployment in the most vulnerable segments of the population, and political uncertainty that threatens the sustainability of HIV/AIDS prevention activities, make Madagascar susceptible to a significant increase in the spread of HIV/AIDS[2]. Since 2002, coordination of Madagascar’s response has been directed by the National AIDS Commission (CNLS, in French).

The country’s overall strategy focuses on behaviour change and prevention, treatment of HIV and sexually transmitted diseases, and AIDS awareness education.

Some of Ambatovy’s industrial activities take place away from major urban centers, requiring workers to live away from their families for extended periods of time. Workers who resort to commercial sex could become infected with HIV and thereafter spread the infection to their spouses and communities when they return home.

Ambatovy has an internal workplace policy that includes HIV/AIDS prevention education and awareness programs. Working closely with recognized non-governmental organizations and institutions such as Population Services International and CNLS, Ambatovy is implementing a series of HIV/AIDS prevention activities targeted at both its workforce and the community. At the regional level, Ambatovy is a key actor and is fully integrated in the CNLS annual work plans.

Ambatovy’s Recent Activities Include:

  • Development and wide-scale dissemination among staff and employees of information and education materials, training manuals, and communication tools, including leaflets and posters, that are visible at all work locations;
  • Engagement of Ambatovy subcontractors in HIV/AIDS awareness activities.
  • Distribution of free condoms for all employees through restroom dispensers, allowing for total confidentiality.
  • Awareness sessions with employees and contractors;
  • Voluntary testing of employees; Ambatovy has performed more than 2,000 voluntary HIV tests since 2010.
  • Community awareness and outreach activities in conjunction with the Voluntary Counseling and Testing Center of Moramanga and in collaboration with the NGOs FISA and MAMIZ in Toamasina, as well as ASOS and UNICEF;
  • Sponsorship of World AIDS Day events in the areas of its operations.

In 2014, Ambatovy received a “Good Practice Award” from the Executive Director of UNAIDS, Mr. Michel Sidibé, who also serves as Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations. The report was in recognition for the company’s commitment to the implementation of the national policy on HIV/AIDS in the work environment, and in the fight against stigma and discrimination in the workplace, in order to achieve the “Zero new cases” objective in Madagascar.

Supporting Understanding

Ambatovy continues to hold regular awareness sessions with employees and to provide informational materials and condoms. 20 internal peer educators who have been trained in communication techniques educate and sensibilize other employees on the dangers of HIV. Ambatovy also regularly assesses the HIV/AIDS awareness level of each employee and has established a free, voluntary and confidential screening facility open to all personnel.

“EnquĂŞte DĂ©mographique et de SantĂ©, Madagascar 2008- 2009″ (Demographic and Health Survey, Madagascar 2008-2009), INSTAT, April 2010.

USAID Madagascar HIV/AIDS Health Profile, June 2010.