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2005-09-01-Volkswagen of South Africa's Efforts To Fight HIV/AIDS
Reuters UK on Monday profiled efforts by Volkswagen of South Africa -- a subsidiary of the German car maker Volkswagen -- to fight HIV/AIDS among its workers and local children, including the creation of a board game to teach children about HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and pregnancy.
The game -- which is being used as part of a pilot project in five schools in Uitenhage, South Africa, where the company's headquarters are located -- aims to dispel myths and stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS.
"The game is very similar to Trivial Pursuit, with questions about HIV/AIDS, rape, TB and pregnancy, but pertinent to that age group without being pornographic,"
Alex Govender, head of health services at VWSA, said. Children ages 11 to 13 are playing the game at schools in Uitenhage. VWSA offers HIV testing at no cost to employees, their partners and children and provides antiretroviral treatment through a workplace-based program.
About 300 of VWSA's 6,000 employees are HIV-positive, and Managing Director Andreas Tostmann said the company has spent about $619,200 on its HIV/AIDS program since it began four years ago.
VWSA also provides food and other assistance to children who have lost one or both parents to HIV/AIDS and tests for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases to people living with TB. "If we can make an early identification, [then] that worker can remain active and productive for a very long time," Govender said. The company has expanded its program to nearby Port Elizabeth, South Africa (Mutikani, Reuters UK, 8/30).