An estimated 26 percent of the population of Swaziland in Africa is HIV positive. But instead of instilling fear with grim AIDS campaigns, the Population Services International charity has introduced a new technique for raising awareness: The “love test.” (Check out the clip above.)
PSI told CNN that the campaign tries to push a positive message, saying that “it is love that should be contagious and couples should get tested together.” This method is more effective because it ensures that partners share and discuss their results with each other. Each testing appointment takes 45 minutes, and includes a 30-minute counseling session. PSI also offers free additional, long-term counseling for those who test positive for HIV.
The campaign started in April 2009, and Swaziland has since seen a 25 percent jump in couples testing, and a 400 percent jump in general testing. But summoning the courage to get tested isn’t as easy for some as it is for others. Men, especially, are less likely to get the test, according to Dominic McNeill, spokesman for PSI Swaziland. “It makes them feel inferior,” he said.
Overall, though, the “love test” initiative has inspired some serious turnout. The campaign is spreading quickly, to neighboring countries, such as Mozambique, Zambia, and Namibia.
I’m impressed that so many couples in Swaziland are signing up for duo-testing, but I have to admit, I’m not sure I would want my partner with me to have my test, or to get my results. Of course, if I were HIV positive, I would feel obligated to tell my partner, but for the actual delivery of those daunting test results, I think I’d rather be alone. What do you guys think? Is getting tested with your partner the best way to ensure shared results and lots of support? Or is it a bad idea? Weigh in below!