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Sunday Times-South Africa
HIV tests reap their rewards
<p>Quinton Mtyala</p>
April 9, 2013

For a second time, the DA-controlled Western Cape government has dished out cash prizes for people who chose to be tested for HIV at provincial health facilities.

Despite criticism from the likes of the Treatment Action Campaign when the programme was launched in November 2011, Premier Helen Zille yesterday awarded five cash prizes of R10000 each to the anonymous "winners" selected from members of the public who entered the testing lottery in February.

Earlier this year, the provincial department of transport also handed out prizes for the "safest driver"- rewarding those without outstanding traffic fines.

Zille said yesterday that although the campaign had been smaller, it was more localised than the one in 2011.

Provincial h ealth d epartment spokesman Faiza Steyn said this year's campaign was mostly focused on the Overberg and Winelands regions along with the Cape Town metro, which has the highest prevalence of pregnant women with HIV.

In 2011, almost 21% of pregnant mothers in Cape Town had tested positive for HIV at state facilities.

During her state of the province address, Zille said the prevalence of HIV in the Western Cape remained a problem.

Her administration had set a target of cutt ing HIV infections from 16% to 8% by 2014, but the latest statistic s showed that infections had increased by 18.4%, with the biggest increase among women in their 30s.

The lottery, she said, was to encourage the sexually active to get regular HIV tests.

Forty-one testing sites were used during the campaign, considerably lower than the 204 in 2011.

Zille said 34 mobile units were established in locations where HIV testing was not usually conducted in a typical week.

She said 45% of those tested were men, and this was significant because "under normal circumstances" up to 70% of those tested were women.

Almost 18% of participants said it was the first time they had tested for HIV, and 77% of those tested were between the ages of 15 and 44.