On Friday 2 October 2015, South African Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant announced the launch of a joint research study, "What works in HIV and AIDS and the world of Work Initiatives in South Africa?", which will be conducted in partnership with the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC).
Speaking at the media launch of the study in Pretoria, Oliphant explained that while South Africa has implemented world-class labour policies over the last 21 years, it is important to examine whether those policies are having the desired impact.
The study will be an extension of “What Works in HIV and AIDS and the World of Work in South Africa” that was launched in April 2015. It aims to obtain documented evidence of effective responses to HIV and AIDS in the South African workplace. This will involve obtaining documentation from 50 workplaces, which will be collated and analysed to determine which interventions are having the greatest impact.
Specifically, the study will look at evidence that determines what impact the labour policies are having on:
- Increasing knowledge of HIV and AIDS
- Encouraging growing commitment to voluntary counselling, testing and changing risky behaviours
- Reduction in stigma and discrimination, as well as
- Increasing uptake on antiretroviral treatment
Minister Oliphant expressed her confidence in the research team:
“We are confident that under the scientific leadership of the HSRC’s research team headed by Prof Nancy Phaswana-Mafuya, Mr Martin Weihs and Dr Dimitri and the HSRC CEO, Prof Crain Soudien giving the much needed guidance and oversight will enhance the study outcomes. The benefit from the collaborative partnership with the Department’s staff will bring along with it enhanced internal research capacity under the leadership of the Director General.”
Oliphant explains that the research findings will enable the Department of Labour to improve policies and practices in the workplace:
“The evidence obtained from the study will also inform steps to be taken in order to enhance policy and best practices in dealing with the challenge of HIV and AIDS in the workplace.”
Specifically, the Department of Labour foresees the following key outcomes:
- The research will acknowledge those South African workplaces where the prevention of HIV infection and the treatment and care of those infected and affected by HIV and AIDS are seen as an integral part of their contribution to the South African economy and the promotion of the well-being of all its citizens.
- It will also highlight important lessons and best practices that could be a source of inspiration for others to follow.
- The research will provide an excellent platform for our own researchers to expand their knowledge.