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2005 National Black Members' Conference
19 September 2004
Carried as Amended

This Conference welcomes the British Government’s commitment to support national governments who want to take forward a combination of approaches, balancing the urgent need to prevent new HIV infections with efforts to treat and care for people with HIV and Aids. The nations with the highest HIV infection rates are predominately Black, leading to scaremongering about the HIV status of migrant workers in some quarters. One Caribbean nation, Cuba, however, has largely escaped the disease with only a 0.07 percent infection rate, one of the lowest infection rates in the world. On July 15 Cuba announced at a meeting with its counterparts from the 15-nation Caribbean Community (Caricom) that it was launching an initiative to help the other Caribbean nations fight HIV/AIDs by providing them with aniretroviral drugs at below market prices, as well as doctors and instruction in public health methods for combating the AIDs pandemic.

Britain will spend £150m in helping children around the world whose parents have died from Aids. tony Blair has said that “this life expectancy in some of the worst affected areas is falling back to pre 1950 levels.” He added that as well as the “millions of personal and family tragedies” caused by the disease “already fragile economics are seeing their working age populations destroyed…quite simply, we cannot hope to tackle poverty on a global scale without addressing Aids. The Government is also going to double its exisiting contribution to a special Global Fund set up in 2000 for the fight against Aids, TB and malaria is £150m over the next three years. However, Nick Crook, UNISON International Officer, believes that “to catch up with the commitment of countries like France , Italy and Japan, we need a trebling of its commitment to the Global Fund at the very minimum.”

Conferences notes that HIV related stigma and discrimination is unique as, unlike other forms of disability discrimination, it is often linked with and reinforces other forms of discrimination such as racism and homophobia.

In the UK, people living with HIV/Aids face discrimination and harassment at work and within wider society. Conference believes that HIV/Aids has always been a workplace – and a trade union – issue. Unfortunately the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) does not currently offer any legal protection to workers with HIV until they develop symptoms of Aids. However the current Disability Bill proposes to amend the DDA to ensure that workers are covered by anti-discrimination legislation from the date of their diagnosis with HIV – this is scheduled to come into effect at the end of 2005. Conference believes that this legislative change provides an ideal opportunity for banches to raise the issue with employers and ensure that appropriate anti-discrimination policies and practices are agreed and implemented.

This Conference notes that the TUC and the Bill Morris Testimonial Campaign on HIV/AIDS are organising a conference on the Workplace Response to HIV?AIDS on Saturday 4th December 2004 in Congress House. The aims and Objectives of the Conference will be to:

1. provide opportunities for learning and discussion about the pandemic

2. share experience from existing workplaces;

3. support introduction of appropriate legislation and workplace practices to

protect workers in general and those diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, and

4. encourage support by trade unionists and members of charities working to

mitigate the effects of HIV/AIDS in the most affected countries

This Conference believes that we need to do more as a trade union on a European and international level. While TVs, billboards and letterboxes were full of HIV and AIDS awareness information in early 1990s, there is very little information on safe sex. The high levels of teenage pregnancies and of other sexually transmitted diseases show that awareness needs to be raised.

This Conference instructs the NBMC to work with the NEC and other relevant parts of the union to:

1. support the Workplace Response to HIV/AIDS Conference;

2. liaise with all SOGs and other voluntary and statutory agencies who are working on this issue at a Unison event to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS;

3. encourage branches to address HIV/AIDS as a workplace issue;

4. continue to work to raise awareness and affiliate to relevant bodies and

5. support migrant workers being stigmatised because of their country of origin.