U.S. Senator Obama Takes Public HIV Test During Visit to Kenya
U.S. Senator Barack Obama (D-Ill.), who for two weeks as part of a congressional delegation is traveling throughout Africa, on Saturday publicly took an HIV test to help combat the stigma surrounding the virus, the Chicago Sun-Times reports (Sweet, Chicago Sun-Times, 8/27). Obama -- whose African tour includes stops in South Africa, Kenya and Chad -- was asked by CDC to take an HIV test during his trip (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 8/23). HIV/AIDS awareness is a focus of Obama's trip (Gettleman, New York Times, 8/26). "If a United States senator can get tested, anyone can get tested," Obama -- a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee African subcommittee -- said. His wife, Michelle, also received an HIV test, and both tests were negative, the Sun-Times reports. In addition, the couple underwent counseling after the test to encourage other couples to do so (Chicago Sun-Times, 8/27). "I am so happy now because I know the status of my wife and I," Obama said, adding, "We are both (HIV) negative, and I can take control of my family and all tasks that lie ahead of me." Obama also said that Kenya's Luo tribe, to which his father belonged, is "heavily ravaged by the HIV/AIDS pandemic," adding that he would "like to see that lives, especially those of children, are saved through tests that would prevent transmission" (Akombo, AFP/Yahoo! News, 8/26). Obama donated about $14,000 to a project run partly with CARE that supports grandmothers raising grandchildren who have lost one or both parents to AIDS-related illnesses (Chicago Sun-Times, 8/27). Obama also visited a CDC-run infections disease control clinic where he planted a tree. "When I go back to America, I am going to challenge the people there to shift more focus towards a malaria campaign ... a lot of focus has been on HIV/AIDS, but it (malaria) remains a major problem in sub-Saharan Africa that must be addressed," Obama said (AFP/Yahoo! News, 8/26).
NPR's "Weekend Edition Sunday" reported on Obama's visit to Africa and his HIV test. The segment includes comments from David McGuffin, a reporter who is following Obama's visit (Hansen, "Weekend Edition Sunday," NPR, 8/27). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.