Increasing HIV testing numbers in Ethiopia
Successful HIV testing campaigns in Ethiopia are showning a ten-fold jump in the number of people testing each year since 2005. This is one of the results from the latest Demographic and Health survey in Ethiopia. Also Dorcas contributed to this result. Several of the HIV/aids projects test community members and leaders for HIV and motivate them to also encourage others to do so.
The supported projects are located in poor suburbs of Addis Ababa, where HIV prevalence is relative high. The national average HIV prevalence remains low at 1.5%, although in urban areas the rate is 5.2%. Especially the poor areas of the city are hard hit by the epidemic. The youth and others are attending to the sick and attending funerals, which in turn results to poverty and increased number of school drop-outs. HIV infected people who can not work anymore may end up in the poor areas of the city.
Church and community leaders are among the people who are sensitized on their role in HIV testing and tested themselves. In the past they considered that HIV/aids was not their concern, but now they start to acknowledge that HIV is one of the greatest social problem. Some became agents of change and promote HIV testing and counseling to couples before they are getting married and provide care and support to HIV infected people and orphaned children in church.
Getting an HIV test is not the golden bullet to solve the epidemic. However, it is important that people know their HIV status. This can motivate people to behave responsibly, for instance through using condoms or encouraging their partner to also get tested, and it can facilitate access to ARVs, the medication that slows down the progression to AIDS, which is provided by the government. Provision of mobile HIV testing services makes it easy for people to get tested.