Saturday, January 19, 2008
HIV TESTING COMMUNITY EVENT
Yesterday I went out with Matt and the team of HIVAIDS (UKIMWI is the Swahili word for HIV) workers to do testing in the community. It was amazing. It was like a block party, there was music, dancing, free pop to people who were tested, people singing and dancing about the importance of being tested, knowing your status, and not stigmitizing people who test positive. It was powerful. A real celebration of life and not a death sentence. For the long term, the clinic has medicine available, counseling, and support groups. On site yesterday people would walk in, give their name and recieve a number, they would go into a shop and have their blood drawn and their number is written down on the siringe, they are then given their free pop and go out and wait for their number to be called at which time they are told the diagnosis and then given counseling. If they are negative, they learn about how to stay negative. If they are positive, they learn about what this means for them and what resources are available. The other great thing about this is that the Tanzanians are the ones doing ALL of this work. Matt and I were only white people and we were playing with the children! The people here have been impowered with this project! There were over 80 people who were tested. The biggest turn out yet! It was great to see and be a part of this event.