Central African Republic: A mini Marathon against HIV

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Let’s run against HIV/AIDS

Let us run against HIV and Aids. This was the theme on which was based the mini marathon that the “Centre d’information d’Education et D’Ecoute du Centre Catholique Universitaire de Bangui” CIEE/CCU organised on the 25th January 2020. The aim was to bring the youth of the city together and by so doing sensitize them on HIV and AIDS. They were also given the opportunity to be tested for HIV in order to know their HIV status.

Why sensitize against HIV through sports? Firstly, we believe that the human person is divided into five different dimensions namely: physical, social, emotional, religious and intellectual. In our centre, our fight against HIV/AIDS is mainly focused on the intellectual dimension where we have group discussions, conferences and so on. The mini marathon was for us an opportunity to put forward both the social and physical dimensions. Secondly, youths in Bangui are quite much interested in sporting activities. Thus, the mini-marathon was a way to bring them out from their different homes and nearby towns. More than four hundred people were present for the activity and more than three hundred participated in the different categories of the mini-Marathon namely 8kms Men, 6kms Women and 6Kms walks. On that day, we registered two hundred and eighty young people who were tested for HIV.

HIV test to a youth

On the D-day, at about 6am, a good number of young men and women had already gathered in the centre waiting for the activity to begin. By 8h:30, the secretary of the apostolic nuncio, the minister of youth and sport, a minister representing the Prime minister, the minister coordinator of the National Comity in the fight against HIV/AIDS in CAR, the first deputy of the neighbourhood, the country director of UNAIDS/CAR and many other officials were already present. Some of them even participated in the activity. After the different allocutions, the minister of youth and sports declared the event opened.

We did not only sensitize those who participated in the mini-marathon, but also those who were on the roads since they saw the participants. In fact, the mini marathon went through town and especially the crowded places. In addition, one of the participants attested to the fact that he has always been running away from having an HIV test and the only time he avails himself to do so is when he has an international competition because he is obliged to do so. He appreciated the mini marathon and confessed that it was his first time to undergo an HIV test freely and willingly. With such a feedback, I can only claim that the activity was a success. This was the first edition of the mini marathon;

let us hope for a second one especially that we have the support of the minister of youth and sports and other officials in the fight against HIV and AIDS.

Even though the marathon ended on the same day, the HIV test went on for the whole next week. Not only did we do the test in our centre but we also went to the university of Bangui and diverse schools and institute of the town. We understood that despite the fact that the students would like to know their HIV status, they are unable to move from their different schools to our centre. A common proverb says that if someone wants to see the Pope, he should go to Rome. In this our activity, we decided to bring the Pope to the people instead by going to the students. At the end of the week, around one thousand and two hundred people were tested for HIV. In other words, around one thousand and two hundred youths have decided to live their life in a more responsible manner. Let us continue to support this project so that more youths in CAR live their life more responsibly; let us build a happy generation and a better future for our children, a future without HIV and AIDS.

Ghislain Selom AKAKPO, SJ

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