The ILO estimates that nearly 24.5 million labour force participants worldwide aged 15-64 were living with AIDS or HIV in 2005. Another 12 million are engaged in at least one form of productive activity. The impact is heaviest in Africa (67% of infected persons) but is spreading fast in Asia, the Caribbean and Eastern Europe. Globally 41% of labour force participants living with HIV are women.

Average life expectancy has declined in the worst hit areas, by nearly half in some African countries. Child labour has gone up and loss of income and larger numbers of impoverished families have increased poverty levels. Formal sector businesses and the informal economy have suffered as skill levels decline and children leave school for work.

To address the impact of HIV/AIDS in various sectors since 2004 the ILO has implemented an innovative new programme: A sectoral approach to HIV/AIDS at the workplace. Working with ILO/AIDS and using the ILO Code of Practice on HIV/AIDS in the world of work and accompanying Education and Training Manual, the programme has worked on strengthening capacity to address sector-specific issues of HIV/AIDS through specific tools – guidelines, workplace policies and training toolkits.