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April 16, 2009

Telethon Fuels Mobile Testing Vehicles in Congo

Less than 12 percent of men and 10 percent of women in the Congo get tested for HIV, so the central African country’s National AIDS Council (CNLS) has raised $218,000 to buy and operate two mobile testing units, IRIN/PlusNews reports.

According to the article, mobile testing vehicles from France will operate in Brazzaville, Congo’s capital, and Pointe Noire, its second largest city. In a prevalence survey conducted in 2003, both cities had Congo’s highest infection rate: about 5 percent. The country’s average HIV prevalence is about 4.2 percent.

To make testing more accessible, the mobile units, which are equipped with a laboratory, will operate on weekends and be stationed at school, religious buildings, workplaces and markets.

The money for the units came from a telethon campaign that ran from January to mid-February and asked residents to send text messages—costing 300 francs (U.S. $0.60) each—with the word “AIDS” to one of the three private cell phone networks in Congo. People could also send donations by check or transfers to a bank account.

“Paying 300 francs for an SMS may seem pointless, but it is an important act because it is helping to prevent disaster—AIDS does not select its victims,” says Moké Miguel, who worked on the campaign.

Search: Congo, Brazzaville, Pointe Noire, mobile testing


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