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Learning English - Words in the News
21 January, 2005 - Published 12:33 GMT
Businesses fail to plan for HIV
map of the world and silhoutte of a person

A survey of thousands of business leaders around the world has found that companies are not doing enough to counter the spread of HIV/Aids among their workforces. This report from Mark Gregory:

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HIV/Aids is spreading fast, with fourteen thousand new infections every day. Yet businesses around the world appear to be losing interest in tackling the problem. That's according to a survey conducted jointly by the World Economic Forum, Harvard Business School and the United Nations agency UNAIDS.

The researchers spoke to nine thousand business leaders in 104 countries, and compared the results to a similar study carried out last year. They found that concern about HIV/Aids among businesses had declined by almost a quarter, and that nearly three quarters of firms had no policies to counter the impact of the epidemic on their workforces.

The study found that firms tend to draw up formal policies on HIV/Aids only when the problem is staring them in the face - that point is reached when a fifth or more of the population is infected, by which time it often too late to come up with cost effective solutions to deal with the devastating economic consequences of the disease.

Even in sub-Saharan Africa with its very high infection rates only seven percent of businesses have policies to counter HIV/Aids. Worryingly, the study found corporate indifference was very marked in so-called new wave countries such as China, India and Russia which are seen as on the verge of massive HIV/Aids epidemics.

Mark Gregory, BBC, London

Listen to the words

dealing with

carried out

gone down

to counter
to fight against


to come up with
to suggest or think of an idea or plan


lack of interest

new wave countries
countries which are experiencing new economic growth

on the verge of
about to experience

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