Citing results of an opinion survey among executives, the WEF said on Monday it showed business was not yet playing a significant role in fighting the disease.

The survey was released to coincide with World AIDS Day.

Even company chiefs who expressed concern about the present and future impact of AIDS on their businesses and the communities they serve, have generally failed to implement measures to counter the menace, it added.

The WEF organises an annual gathering of top businessmen and political figures in the Swiss mountain resort of Davos. 

According to estimates from the United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), 40 million adults are living with HIV/AIDS
all over the world, of whom an estimated 26.6 million are in sub-Saharan Africa. It says five million new victims have been infected with HIV this year.

"WEF survey results highlight the urgent need for businesses,  particularly in Asia, to take action now"

Peter Piot,
UNAIDS executive director

Of nearly 8000 firms surveyed in 103 countries, the WEF said, only 21% felt that HIV/AIDS would have a severe impact on their business, while 47% felt it would have "some impact". 

The danger-awareness figures were much lower in countries not yet badly hit by the disease. 

In sub-Saharan Africa, which is the worst-hit region, 89%of firms thought it would have some negative effect on their business, while in the Middle East and North Africa, the figure dropped to 33%.  

In a comment to be issued with the full report, UNAIDS Executive Director, Peter Piot, said the survey showed the huge size of the task facing campaigners in heightening perceptions of the menace to global economic and social stability. 

The threat, Piot declared, is not confined to sub-Saharan Africa, and the survey's results highlighted the urgent need for businesses in other parts of the world, particularly in Asia,to take immediate action.