South African Journal of Bioethics and Law

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Incentives for HIV testing at the workplace in the automotive industry in the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality: Ethical considerations

M Weihs, A Meyer-Weitz, F Baasner-Weihs


Comprehensive HIV and AIDS workplace programmes made use of substantial lottery incentives in HIV counselling and testing drives to promote HIV testing at four companies in the automotive industry in the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality. The main aim was to use lottery incentives to increase uptake for HIV testing. This would help to define company HIV prevalence and ensure timely support, care and treatment of employees. In total, 1 324 employees, making up about 90% of the total staff, were tested for HIV in the four companies during wellness testing days. In order to gain an understanding of employees’ experiences of the lotteries as part of the HIV counselling and testing drive, quantitative data were collected among a total of 414 employees, and 17 interviews were conducted in the four companies. In this article, we investigate the issue of whether the lotteries unduly influenced the employees’ participation in workplace HIV testing, and an approach to resolving an identified ethical dilemma is presented. The ethical question as to whether lottery incentives contribute to undue coercion was explored using both a utilitarian and a deontological approach. The analysis concluded that the use of lotteries to encourage HIV testing in the workplaces of the automotive industry in the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality can be deemed morally acceptable.
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