Slow HIV testing pace concerns government

The reluctance of people in Botswana to be tested for HIV/AIDS is slowing the country's efforts in tackling the pandemic, the Ministry of Health has said.

This was despite a new directive by the country's National AIDS Co-ordinating Agency (NACA) that all people seeking treatment from public and private health institutions were expected to undergo routine testing for HIV/AIDS.

Health officials believe that while the magnitude of the pandemic could shock some people into being tested, it could also reinforce a false message of hopelessness.

Ernest Darkoh, operations manager for the ministry's antiretroviral drug programme, was quoted by the American newspaper Boston Globe as saying: "When you have that many people who don't know their status, anything could happen. If each person infected another person, then you could have 35 percent prevalence turn into 70 percent prevalence. It's insane."

Research shows that more than 35 percent of adults aged between 15 and 49 in Botswana are living with HIV/AIDS.