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Friday 2 March 2007
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SOUTH AFRICA: A true test of love on Valentine's Day

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

©  Khomanani

A Johannesburg clinic is attempting to put a romantic spin on HIV testing.

JOHANNESBURG, 14 February (PLUSNEWS) - It might not be as romantic as dinner for two with all the trimmings, but HIV testing for two is being billed as one way South African couples can demonstrate their commitment to each other on Valentine's Day.

The Zuzimpilo Medical Centre in central Johannesburg is offering a 'two for the price of one' discount to couples who are tested together between Valentine's Day and the end of February.

"In just a few minutes you and your partner can have complete peace of mind," reads a statement by the centre. "Now that's a gift worth sharing."

For R20 (just under US$3), couples receive pre- and post-test counselling, as well as advice on how to stay negative or, for those who test positive, a CD4 count (which measures the strength of the immune system) to determine whether they need antiretroviral treatment.

The centre opened late last year, with funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and also provides treatment. It offers an alternative to expensive private clinics and overburdened public facilities, and caters specifically to clients who lack medical aid and earn less than R10,000 a month ($1,383), but would rather pay a small fee than lose a day queuing for services at a public clinic.

In a country where one in five adults is estimated to be infected with HIV, but the majority do not know their status, a number of publicly and privately funded initiatives have used various messages and incentives to persuade South Africans to be tested in greater numbers. Experts have also encouraged couples to be tested together in order to take joint responsibility for staying negative, or support each other in the event of a positive result.



Recent SOUTH AFRICA Reports
Condom application given a hand ,  19/Feb/07
AIDS response becomes a test of faith,  13/Feb/07
Rural orphan-care programmes struggle,  12/Feb/07
Farmworkers challenged to curb risky behaviour,  7/Feb/07
Clarity sought in microbicides furore,  7/Feb/07
· AIDS Media Center
· The Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis & Malaria
· International Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDS
· International HIV/AIDS Alliance

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