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Sierra Leone Government Officials to Submit to HIV/AIDS Tests

January 27, 2004

In a bid to erase stigma attached to AIDS, all of Sierra Leone's government ministers and their deputies are to be tested for HIV, said Vice President Solomon Berewa. "This is a practical way for us to show leadership," Berewa told reporters Monday after a weekend meeting with major international donors that addressed progress in health, sanitation and public infrastructure sectors. Berewa said he also encourages lawmakers to be publicly tested for HIV. Berewa's call follows an appeal last week by the National AIDS Commission for journalists to submit to HIV tests. According to UNAIDS, the HIV/AIDS infection rate in Sierra Leone, which saw a massive movement of refugees during its decade-long civil war that ended in 2001, has doubled to 5.1 percent since 1996.

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Agence France Presse

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