Employers Can Take the Lead in Aids Education

Article excerpt

People may tire of hearing or reading about acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) and all the attendant problems associated with the disease, but it's time to swallow hard and start preparing for the harsh realities facing business, which have to do with financial health and for society in general, which means, literally, life or death.

Concern about the impact on business and society is reflected in a well done "primer for AIDS education in the workplace" published by three institutions with more than passing interest in the eventual outcome - the American Foundation for AIDS Research, the American Council of Life Insurance and the Health Association of America. Twenty other organizations signed on as co-sponsors.

The booklet, relying on data furnished by the Palo Alto Medical Foundation and Research Institute, says economists now believe that AIDS will cost this country as much as $66.5 billion in the year 1991. In that same year, personal medical care costs alone are expected to reach $8.5 billion. By contrast, the total cost of AIDS in 1986 was $8.7 billion. The worst, it appears, is yet to come.

For those concerned about taxes in this election year, see what awaits you in 1991: higher taxes.

It's the price to be exacted for controlling AIDS. And the discussion is not limited to federal expenditures and revenues.

"Higher taxes will be required to fund state and local governments facing shortages of facilities and staff to provide necessary care," declares the publication's impact statement.

Federal exenditures for AIDS-related health services - Medicaid benefits and others - will exceed $1.3 billion in fiscal 1988. By 1991, however, these outlays will reach $2.3 billion. And, by extension, the rising costs, inexorably, apply greater pressures on the resources of state and local governments.

Through it all, the government will be spending more on research, on blood screening, education and support services.

The point of the publication, titled AIDS Education/A Guide to Business, is that companies both large and small are discovering that they aren't immune to what has become a major public health threat.

According to estimates made in mid-summer, 1.5 million persons in this country already had been infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the viral agent responsible for causing AIDS. …

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