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CUPE and other social justice organizations are worried that Coca-Cola is not doing enough to help stem the tide of HIV/AIDS in Africa. There are 42 million people living with HIV worldwide and the majority of cases, 75 percent, are in Sub-Saharan Africa. In 2001 alone, AIDS killed nearly half a million people in Southern Africa where the pandemic will magnify the effects of a famine threatening 14.4 million people.

Coke is the largest foreign private sector employer in Africa and it makes big bucks in sales from developing countries. Responding to pressure from AIDS activists, in September the company announced an initiative to share the costs of HIV/AIDS treatment with eight of the 40 bottlers in Africa.

These eight participating bottlers are some of the largest and several already have insurance plans of their own. Activists are concerned about Coke’s commitment to extending a workable plan quickly to the many smaller bottlers. The company is also demanding workers pay a ten per cent co-payment on drugs, which will create a barrier to access for those who can’t pay. As well, children of workers aren’t covered under the current plan, just the worker and one spouse, which leaves HIV-positive children without access to treatment.

If you want to learn more about this issue go to the Health GAP website here.