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Kenya seeks to test one million for HIV/Aids

By Peter Greste
BBC News, Nairobi

Kenya Aids clinic stacked with retrovirals
Kenya has one of the highest HIV/Aids rates in the world

The health ministry in Kenya has launched a three-week campaign to encourage up to one million people to take an Aids test.

Ministry officials will go door-to-door in a bid to more than double the number of people checked since voluntary testing clinics were set up in 2004.

The latest drive has already met public resistance, in a country where taking a test can be equated to promiscuity.

Between 7% and 8.5% of the adult population suffers from HIV/Aids.

One reason that the figure is not more precise is because the vast majority of Kenyans simply have not been tested.

That is why the government has launched its latest programme called Jitambue Leo - literally "know yourself".

In it, teams of health department workers will knock on as many doors as they can over the next three weeks, hoping to reach one million people.

If they do, it would be a staggering increase on the 700,000 who have been to voluntary counselling and testing clinics since the programme began five years ago.

But the challenge is huge.

People living with Aids carry a heavy social burden and even taking a test is seen as a sign of sexual promiscuity.

But Minister of Public Health Beth Mugo says too many Kenyans are dying not because they have Aids but because they simply do not know they are HIV-positive and therefore are not getting treatment.



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