HUNDREDS of people from a remote village of Kenyamonta in Serengeti District, Mara Region participated in an HIV/AIDS testing programme, an official said.
"About 400 people turned up to check their HIV status and more than 16 where found to be living with the virus and were counselled," Mr Rhobi Samweli , a programme coordinator for the Serengeti We Can Live Without HIV/AIDS Gender-based Violence and Female Genital mutilation (FGM), said.
The massive HIV/AIDS testing programme was conducted as part of commemorating this year's World AIDS Day, in the village of a district whose large part is made of game protected areas including world famous park, the Serengeti, last Saturday.
"Those who tested HIV positive will be mobilized to join economic generating groups supported by our programme," the official said describing the huge turn up of villagers to test their status as a positive development for the campaign against HIV/AIDS in rural areas.
Several peer educators provided anti-HIV/AIDS education to hundreds of villagers during the occasion that was also coloured by various traditional dance groups that also delivered messages meant to fight the deadly diseases in the area. "One of the most interesting things is that a poem, presented during the occasion, triggered some people to announce that they were HIV positive during the occasion and people were against discrimination against those living with the virus," she added.
The Serengeti District Council Planning Officer, Mr Ogada Magati, urged Serengeti residents to abstain from cultural practices that contribute to new HIV/AIDS infections such as FGM, women inheritance as well as same sex marriages. "Let us invest more on educating our female children and do away with harmful cultural practices," Mr Magati said.
The Serengeti We Can Live without HIV/AIDS and Gender Based Violence and Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is a one year programme executed by the Anglican Church Mara Diocese through the sponsorship of Rapid Fund Envelop (RFE). The programme was officially launched on May 5, this year and it aims to cut down gender-based violence and spread of HIV/AIDS in rural villages of Serengeti.
The programme targets 12 rural villages of Serengeti at this time, according to Ms Samweli. Traditional, local and religious leaders are some of the key stakeholders taking part in the programme, which also uses community meetings, featuring traditional dances, radio programmes, peer educators, posters and booklets to impart gender-based violence and HIV/AIDS education in the target villages.