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Last Updated: Saturday, 14 July 2007, 16:42 GMT 17:42 UK
Tanzanian leader takes Aids test
Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete
President Kikwete and his wife were first to be tested at the launch
The president and opposition leaders in Tanzania have launched a national campaign for voluntary HIV/Aids testing by being tested in public.

It is one of the most high-profile campaigns by African leaders to fight the disease.

The UN estimates that nearly 1.5 million Tanzanians live with Aids but President Kikwete said only 15% of the population had been tested.

The politicians are hoping the public will follow their lead.

The launch, in Tanzania's commercial capital, Dar es Salaam, was witnessed by thousands of residents as well as foreign diplomats and development partners.

Fighting stigma

The president and first lady were the first to be tested, in one of a number of tents erected especially for the purpose.

Mr Kikwete said nobody with HIV/Aids should feel victimised, and urged Tanzanians to respect and care for those living with the virus.

The campaign was "to raise awareness among the public and to assure those already affected that we will support them and protect them from abuses", he said.

"The government will also try to ensure that those affected get the appropriate treatment to enable them to live longer."

Mr Kikwete said the government's initial target was to have tested four million people country-wide by December.

Tanzania's Health Minister, David Mwakyusa, said testing would be confidential and that all those who tested positive would receive care and free anti-retroviral drugs.

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