By Tesfa-Alem Tekle
February 14, 2014 (ADDIS ABABA) – The United Nations programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) in Ethiopia on Saturday announced that Ethiopia has now officially become world record holder for most people being tested for HIV.
A lab technician draws blood from a patient for HIV testing at the Aids Information Centre in Kampala on 20 January 2014 (AFP)
Rahel Gettu, UNAIDS country community mobilisation and networking advisor in Ethiopia, told Sudan Tribune that Guinness World Records has on Friday officially confirmed the horn of Africa’s nation has beat the world record which previously had been held by Argentina.
While marking the World AIDS Day, Ethiopia last December conducted a free mass HIV testing campaign held at a Stadium in Gambella regional state.
Accordingly, a total of 3,383 people voluntarily tested for HIV status in single venue in an eight-hour period.
Of those, 82 people (2.4%) of them tested positive and had since been linked to health facilities for support and further follow up.
Ethiopia set the new record after facing strong competition from South Africa and Botswana.
Gambella, which borders neighbouring South Sudan, has the highest HIV prevalence in Ethiopia (6.5%) compared to the national figure which stands at 1.3%, according to the Ethiopian Demographic and Health Survey 2011.
The region, located in the country’s south-west, also hosts over 180,000 South Sudanese who crossed borders to Ethiopia following conflict that breakout in the young East African nation in December 2013.
UNAIDS officials say such voluntary AIDS testing in regions like Gambela where there is high HIV prevalence is crucial to prevent new HIV infections.
The officials added, voluntary AIDS testing will be continued across the country to enhance the ongoing efforts of achieving zero new infections in Ethiopia.