S.Africa offers lucky draw for voluntary HIV tests

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Mar 5, 2010
Cape Town: A South African province on Friday announced it will offer a 50,000 rand ($5,900, 4,400 euros) prize in a lucky draw to encourage people to test for HIV in the world's biggest AIDS population.

"Persuasion has not worked. We would rather use incentives than coercive methods to ensure that all adults regularly test their HIV status," said Western Cape premier Helen Zille, the Sapa news agency reported.

People who tested for HIV at the testing sites in the province will be entered into the lucky draw.

South Africa has poured money into its AIDS campaigns, rolling out a massive testing drive and scaling up the world's largest AIDS treatment programme after years of refusing life-saving drugs.

Last year, just over one million people tested voluntarily in the Western Cape, the country's only opposition-run province, and 103,000 were on anti-AIDS treatment by the end of October.

Latest UNAIDS report released on Monday estimates South Africa has the world's largest HIV population of 5.6 million people.

Ramped up investments in fighting the disease had seen infections drop by 22 percent between 2001 and 2009 and deaths by 21 percent between 2001 and last year, the report said. (AFP