1 December 2017

Burundi: Health Professionals Appeal to Population to Do HIV Test Before Falling Sick

The only way to know whether or not you have HIV is to get screened. Some Burundians still wait to get sick before doing HIV test. Health professional calls on the population to do HIV test so that they know their HIV status.

The world AIDS Day celebrated every 1 December comes as an opportunity to get together in the fight against HIV and the best way to do so is to do HIV screening, says a health professional.

Some Burundians still believe that one cannot live with HIV and work as HIV negative people. Stève, a bicycle taxi rider met in Bujumbura Center, thinks that no bicycle taxi rider can be infected with HIV/AIDS. For him, there is no need to do HIV screening. "A bicycle rider uses much energy. He has to be healthy. I think no bicycle rider can suffer from HIV. I don't need to do a test, I feel that I have no HIV", says Stève.

Others recognise the importance of doing HIV test but say they still feel they should go to the hospital when they are sick. Pascal is a taxi driver met in the northern part of Bujumbura. He says it is very difficult to go to hospital when one does not feel sick. "I recognise the importance of doing HIV screening. However, I have never thought of going for a test as I am always busy," says Pascal.

Gakiza Dorian, a medical doctor working with the National Association supporting HIV-positive people (ANSS), says it is very important to know one's HIV status. "It is better to get HIV tested before one falls sick. When one knows their health status, this helps them take a step towards keeping their partner and themselves healthy." says Gakiza.

He says apart from between 30 to 50 people who daily come for HIV test, ANSS does targeted screening in hotels, night clubs, ... and gets around 100 people who do HIV test.

Gakiza stresses the low level of male participation in the HIV screening.

The World AIDS Day which was first established in 1988, is celebrated this year under the theme: "Right to Health".

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