By mid-2001, De Beers plans to have several projects operating to help assess and curtail the impact of HIV-AIDS among African workers.
The programs will call first for confidential testing of all employees.
Botswana mining giant, Debswana–partially owned by De Beers–has, meanwhile, said that it will pay for antiretroviral AIDS drugs for its workforce. The move is one of the largest AIDS funding projects in Africa, the center of the AIDS epidemic. The company will pay for 90% of the costs for each employee and spouse diagnosed with HIV.
Other South African mining companies, like Anglo American, have also announced plans to test their workers.
An estimated 4.2 million South Africans are living with HIV-AIDS, and Botswana ranks among countries with the highest rate of AIDS. The U.N. estimates that at least 36 percent of the population is infected. Without treatment, the shortened life expectancies of Botswana’s HIV+ workers is poised to affect Debswana and other African companies.