Integrating HIV and AIDS in Occupational Safety and Health Programmes: the Costa Rican Experience

Article | 01 July 2010

Costa Rica - July 2010


Costa Rica has successfully incorporated HIV and AIDS into occupational health and safety programmes through the development of a national guideline: “Prevención y Abordaje del VIH en el Mundo del Trabajo”.


In 2009, a multi-sector process was undertaken in Costa Rica by the National Council of Occupational Health and Safety and the International Labour Organization, with the Pan-American Health Organization’s support. This resulted in the adoption of a national guideline requiring the inclusion of HIV and AIDS in workplace occupational health and safety (OSH) programmes.

Amendments to the national AIDS legislation and Labour Code, inspired by the ILO Code of Practice on HIV and AIDS incorporated fundamental principles into OSH programmes, including: non discrimination, access to information, prevention, and availability of relevant health services at work and post-exposure prophylaxis. A participatory process with OSH committees and HIV and AIDS non-governmental organizations led to the establishment of a human rights framework which mainstreamed gender equality and sexual diversity.

A toolkit was created to facilitate the guideline’s implementation at the workplace. The toolkit assists OSH committees in designing and implementing effective HIV workplace programmes.

Lessons Learned

Integrating HIV and AIDS in OSH programmes through a mandatory guideline is a sustainable way to tackle HIV and AIDS issues through workplaces. OSH structures at workplaces rely on a bipartite approach involving employers and workers that improves buy-in and implementation. These structures also have knowledge of the specific needs of the particular workplace, which facilitates tailoring programmes to specific groups of workers. They operate within the framework of national OSH laws and regulations.

Next Steps

An effective periodic monitoring and evaluation system will be put in place. Information gathered will be taken into account in national monitoring and evaluation.