SABMiller, the brewer behind Peroni and Pilsner Urquell, is stepping up its efforts to fight Aids in Africa by extending HIV testing to the spouses of farmers in Uganda. The farmers provide sorghum to make SABMiller’s best-selling Eagle beer in Uganda.
The company’s innovative approach is to offer free HIV testing and counselling, anti-retroviral drugs and condoms not just to its own employees, but also to its supply chain in Uganda – truck drivers, farmers and bar staff.
So far, more than 4,800 people have been through HIV awareness training and 29% of them have been tested for the virus. Last year, 10,000 condoms were distributed to SABMiller’s suppliers and bartenders selling its beer in Uganda.
“Truckers are mobile, so prevalence among them is much higher,” said Jenni Gillies, group HIV consultant to SABMiller. “We’ve reached half the farmers in terms of getting them through voluntary counselling and testing.
The company supplied 200 bicycles to farmers to enable them to spread the word, as well as providing educational materials to schools.
Nearly all SABMiller’s HIV-positive employees are receiving treatment through the company’s clinic at its Njeru brewery, 80km from the Ugandan capital, Kampala.
Similarly, Coca-Cola is working with its bottling partners to provide an HIV/Aids prevention and treatment programme for more than 60,000 people linked to the company in Africa, their spouses and children. Other companies, such as mining giant Anglo American and drinks group Diageo, are also running workplace HIV/Aids education and treatment programmes in Africa.
Uganda is SABMiller’s flagship programme on HIV/Aids prevention, but it is also running initiatives in Kenya, Malawi and South Africa. In Kenya, it is working with nine other companies and the Global Business Coalition to test 1 million couples for the virus by the end of next year. A similar programme is now being rolled out in Uganda.