Far too many people don’t even realise they are HIV-positive, which is a big part of the problem. Many wait until they actually fall ill before finding out that they have the virus. By then, it’s dangerously late to start treatment, and they may be too ill to recover. People who don’t know they are HIV-positive are also less likely to use condoms during sex, which increases the risk of spreading the virus to others.
Why not get tested?
There are all kinds of reasons why people don’t get tested. Maybe they are scared of finding out the result, or worried about other people’s attitudes. Maybe the clinic is miles away, and they can’t afford to travel there. Or maybe the clinic staff don’t have time to carry out the tests, or have run out of HIV testing kits.
Going door to door
To encourage people to get tested, we train health workers to go from door to door in villages and towns, testing people in their own homes. We have also successfully pioneered HIV testing in local community centres and bars.
People whose HIV tests are positive are referred to a nearby clinic. At the clinic, counsellors are on hand to explain what it means to be HIV-positive, and to talk people through the treatment.
Make testing easier
We need to encourage more and more people to find out their HIV status by making it easier for them to get tested. This way, people who are HIV-positive can start treatment before they become too ill, and the risk of spreading the virus to others will be reduced.