Teachers meet to discuss HIV policy

National, Normal

The National – Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A FOUR-day workshop is under way in Port Moresby to review workplace policy to effectively safeguard the 40,000-plus teaching professionals in Papua New Guinea from the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
The HIV/AIDS writing workshop is being hosted by the Papua New Guinea Teachers Association under its HIV/AIDS workplace training package initiative.
It started yesterday at the Hideaway Hotel.
“The focus is to come up with an effective care and support mechanism for employees who are infected or affected as well as encouraging behavioural change among the workforce and using them to drive awareness to student populations,” association president Tommy Hecko said.
He said teachers could be classed a mobile population because of work placements that meant they were part of high risk group among the workforce.
“We have teachers who are infected.
“It is our responsibility to protect them, if we don’t act now there is a risk that we may lose half the workforce,” Hecko said.
 “Nowadays we have teachers who have two wives because of work placements or transfers, we have teachers who are widowers or widows, teachers who are single mothers, teachers who come from problem marriages and teachers who are separated because of spouse travelling for scholarships overseas.”
Representatives from the Education Department, Teaching Services Commission, National AIDS Council Secretariat, including four union regional representatives, were invited to give updates on HIV workplace policy and guidelines.
“The objective is to make us aware of the situation and how we could work in partnership with major HIV stakeholders and through our provincial and district networks to get the message across and instilling values that promotes behavioural change,” Hecko said.