HIV-AIDS in the Construction Sector

Background - the HIV-AIDS epidemic

The disastrous impact of HIV-AIDS on the individuals and entire populations of many countries, particularly on those persons least able to cope, that is the poor and children, is widely acknowledged and FIDIC shares the Worldwide concern at this scourge on humanity. FIDIC also recognises that construction sites in developing countries are potentially primary centres of HIV-AIDS, and FIDIC Member Firms often have key roles on such sites and are thus in a position to make a difference.

FIDIC Member Firms are by no means immune from a serious involvement in respect to their own employees. Infection rates of 25% or more are reported in the offices of FIDIC Member Firms offices in some countries.

Ambassador Richard C. Holbrooke, the President and CEO of the Global Business Council on HIV-AIDS has stated on the issue “Why business must respond to AIDS” [Ref. 1].

“When AIDS first appeared twenty years ago no one could have predicted the impact it would have on our world. Already over 20 million people have died (2001 figure). Another 36 million live with the disease. And although we know how HIV is transmitted, over 16,000 people continue to be infected every single day.

AIDS affects people, and therefore AIDS impacts our business. For the last 20 years, AIDS has affected our employees, our managers, and our customers, and is increasingly hitting the bottom line. And if your business does not feel the direct impact of the epidemic then I appeal to your corporate sense of social responsibility. For whatever we can say about business’ very real financial interest in halting the spread of HIV/AIDS, this first and foremost a humanitarian cause.”

Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in a recent call to action:

“There is no more time for half-measures. In terms of life lost, children orphaned and the destruction of the social and economic fabric of whole societies and whole countries, AIDS is an unparallel nightmare. What is more, its impact continues to grow. In the worst affected countries, where more than one in five adults are infected, infrastructure, services and productive capacity are facing total collapse. The challenge is enormous, but we are not powerless to face it.”

AIDS in the Construction Sector

In the Introduction to the Draft Specification for HIV-AIDS Awareness, the Construction Industry Development Board of South Africa [Ref. 2], says:

"Research indicates that the South African construction industry has the third highest incidence of HIV/Aids in South Africa. The construction sector has a predominantly migratory labour force, making it a prime contributor to the spread of HIV/Aids. Labour camps are a breeding ground for the spread of HIV/Aids and Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs), this being compounded by the situation where migrant workers on contract generally ignore or are ignorant of the consequences of casual sexual relationships.

The prevalence of subcontracting, the emergence of many small contractors and the tendency toward labour-only subcontracting increased the complexity of developing an effective HIV/Aids strategy that targets the full spectrum of those employed in construction. This level of complexity places a special responsibility on clients, the professions and industry leaders.

The construction sector has the potential to play an important role in the country’s inter-sectoral approach to coping with the epidemic. The sector also provides entry-level local jobs, which may be crucial to the survival of youth-headed households and extended families in areas hard hit by the epidemic. Construction sites can accordingly provide a convenient location for HIV/Aids programmes to both construction workers and rural communities.”

FIDIC and FIDIC Member Firms have a corporate social responsibility, and FIDIC recognises that Member Firms can make a significant difference, because they have already done so in a number of countries.

For these reasons, FIDIC has developed this Policy on HIV-AIDS in the Construction Sector.


FIDIC recommends that:

FIDIC Member Firms should at all times use their influence, position and strengths to reduce the impact of HIV-AIDS on their own employees and those of Contractors, and their families, and for the wider community particularly at or related to construction sites on which the Member Firm is engaged.

The responses of FIDIC Firms in showing Leadership and Advocacy will normally comprise the following five strategies recommended for implementation in engineering and construction works contracts [Ref. 3]:

Five strategies to be implemented in engineering and construction works contracts:

1. Raising awareness about HIV/AIDS.
- increased understanding about the disease, through dissemination
of information and by generating discussion.
- promote the benefits of abstinence / avoidance
2. Ensuring that construction workers have access to condoms.
3. HIV voluntary counselling, testing and referral services.
4. Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) diagnosis and treatment.
5. Monitoring of outcomes, in collaboration with National HIV/AIDS Authorities. 

These strategies are designed to build an HIV resilient workforce as well as communities associated with the workforce, i.e., communities that are able to draw on its own capacity to prevent further transmission of HIV, minimise the impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and talk about HIV/AIDS. 

The objectives of these strategies are to

a. reduce the risk of transfer of the HIV virus between and among construction workers, their families and the local community;

b. raise awareness amongst construction workers and the local community of the risk of infection with the HIV virus;

c. promote the benefits of abstinence/avoidance

d. promote voluntary early diagnosis; and

e. assist affected individuals to access care and counselling.


FIDIC has prepared HIV-AIDS Clauses aimed at meeting the above objectives and recommends that these Clauses be included in Construction Contracts wherever there is the slightest risk of HIV-AIDS infection relating to the construction site or activities.

It is recommended that the following sub-clause be added to Clause 6, Staff and Labour, of the Conditions Particular Application of the FIDIC Conditions of Contract for Construction [Ref. 4].


HIV-AIDS Prevention
The Contractor shall conduct an HIV-AIDS awareness programme via an Approved Service Provider, and shall undertake such other measures as are specified in this Contract to reduce the risk of the transfer of the HIV virus between and among the Contractors Employees and their families and the local community, to promote voluntary early diagnosis and to assist affected individuals.

HIV-AIDS Technical Clauses are provided in Annexure 1 [WORD file].

These are drafted for use with the FIDIC Standard Conditions of Contract [Ref. 4], as clauses within the Contract Technical Specification, although the Clauses could be adapted to any form of Contract.

In drafting these Clauses, FIDIC has drawn upon the publications of CIDB [Ref. 2] and ILO [Ref. 3].

The intent of these Clauses is that the measures specified to be undertaken by the Contractor are to be measured and priced in the tender Bill of Quantities, and subsequently paid for on completion or progressively as measurable (pay) items in accordance with the General Conditions (Clause 12 of the FIDIC Condition of Contract for Construction 1999).


The FIDIC HIV-AIDS Clauses [Annexure 1: WORD file] have been drafted specifically for use with FIDIC Standard Contracts, drawing upon the sources referenced in Ref. 2 and 3.

However, FIDIC suggests that the Clauses may be adapted for wider use, including:

- with other forms of contract;
- in designing anti-HIV-AIDS strategies in other applications such as other industries and community awareness generally;
- specifically in campaigns within the offices of Member Firms operating in AIDS- prevalent situations.


FIDIC Member Firms working either as an employer or when acting as Project Manager or Site Supervisor, are in a position to monitor the take up and effectiveness of anti-AIDS measures, and FIDIC recommends that they do so. Examples of indicators to be monitored would include:

- HIV related absences amongst staff;
- frequency of attendance at training seminars
- take up of condom use;
- understanding of the anti-HIV – AIDS messages amongst staff.


1. The Global Business Council on HIV-AIDS: Business Action on HIV/AIDS – a blueprint (2001).

2. The Construction Industry Development Board of South Africa: Specification for HIV/Aids Awareness, June 2003.

3. International Labour Organisation (ILO), Implementing Labour Standards in Construction.

4. FIDIC Conditions of Contract for Construction, 1st Ed (1999).