More HIV positive people reside in South Africa than in any other country. If not carefully controlled, the epidemic could impede the country's progress including the evolution of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) which are integral to the success and growth of the economy (Fraser, et al, 2002). While some progress has been made in understanding the impact of HIV/AIDS on SMEs, there is still a lot to be learned – especially about how SMEs are responding. This paper makes a contribution to this emerging research issue through a case study of how a single labour-intensive SME in the fast food industry in Cape Town has confronted HIV/AIDS in its workforce.
This study provides insights and information into the nature of the epidemic experienced at the SME level, and illustrates that socially desirable and economically feasible interventions are possible in South Africa – and at relatively little cost to SMEs. The paper draws on detailed observations of how the labour-intensive firm in question responded to the endemic through a customised voluntary counselling and testing (VCT) intervention and then assisting sick staff to go on antiretroviral (ARV) treatment.
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