Over a period of eight hours, 4,367 people received HIV/AIDs testing and counseling in Ethiopia this past November, making this the largest instance of HIV testing to happen in history.
The event took place at Gambella Stadium, a 30,000 seat stadium that began construction in 2014 and is expected to be completed very soon. Guinness World Record officials were on hand to officiate the big win for safer sex.
The previous world record was beat nearly three times over– the previous record, from Argentina, was 1,380 people over the same period.
Instead of a morose doctor’s office, locals turned the testing day into a celebration, with the help of the CONDOMIZE! Campaign, a local safer sex initiative. Traditional dancers and famous music groups performed for entertainment. Government officials showed up to be tested. Forums were held by medical professionals to field questions and concerns.
We here at the Condom Depot Learning Center were reminded of other engaging HIV/AIDs prevention methods that have proved successful around the globe, like the condom cookbook and the soy sauce study from Japan, the Condoms and Cabbages restaurant in Thailand, and the giant condom art piece in Australia.
For Ethiopia, this is a big win. The Gambella region where the stadium is located has one of the highest rates of HIV in the country. 6.5% of adults in the area are infected. Poverty is one of the reasons why HIV runs at near-epidemic levels in Ethiopia. About 15% of people live below the poverty line, placing them at a heightened risk for catching the disease.
Transmission usually happens between heterosexual couples with women having a much higher rate of infection from their male partners. Sex workers, police officers, and military personnel are also at an increased risk.
HIV/AIDs has left nearly one million orphans in Ethiopia. An estimated 790,000 were reported to be infected as of 2013, per UNAIDs. But the news isn’t all grim: with the efforts of people like CONDOMIZE!, World Condom Day, and many more, new infection rates of HIV/AIDs in Ethiopia have slowed by nearly 90% in the last decade. And that’s something worth celebrating.
When interviewed by UNAIDs, some of those who had positive results still had positive attitudes as well:
“Now I have a new life and a new safer beginning. I cannot change my result but the rest is in my control. I am determined to lead a protected life for me, my child and my husband.” —Nyanhial Gach, 22, graduating student at the Gambella Health Science College
“I am delighted by our result and I understand this is just the beginning and we should keep the healthy life. I will put my heart, mind, and soul to protect myself and my girlfriend from infection.” —Ojha Omod, 24, high school student
Testing and using preventative measures, like condoms and Truvada, are both the easiest way to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDs and other diseases. For more information, check out the Condom Depot Learning Center’s article hub for STD/STIs.