Brazil takes advantage of World Cup crowds to test for HIV

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SAO PAULO – Brazilian officials handed out condoms to World Cup fans in Sao Paulo and took advantage of festivities in city to test for HIV.

“We can’t miss an opportunity like this,” said Ivone De Paula, Sao Paulo ’s coordinator for sexually transmitted disease prevention. “ fact that it’s Cup lightens mood a bit. say ‘Hey I’m going to watch game, I’m having fun, why not get tested too?'”

The programme, part of the UNAIDS “Protect the Goal” HIV/AIDS prevention program, provides rapid HIV testing and counseling, as well as free condoms and emergency retroviral drugs. It is also being offered in 11 cities across Sao Paulo where visiting World Cup teams are based.

De Paula expected the program to conduct about 300 rapid HIV tests outside ’s Fan Fest, where a giant screen displayed the Cameroon vs Mexico . Many were getting tested for the first time ever, she said.

“I had idea this was going to be here, I just came across it,” said a middle-aged man who asked not to be identified. “I wouldn’t know where to get tested otherwise, so this helps quite a lot.”

Brazil usually conducts HIV and AIDS prevention campaigns during the Carnival holiday, including widespread advertising and condom distribution. Aggressive HIV/AIDS and prevention efforts in the South American country have been held as a model for the developing world for than a decade. (Reuters)