Celebrity testing is about leaders acting as role models for the wider community to show them that they should not fear taking a HIV test because MPs, CEOs and even High Commissioners take HIV tests. LVCT pioneered celebrity testing in 2006 and has increased HIV Testing and Counselling uptake through Celebrity Testing of Members of Parliament, Young Parliamentarians, Ambassadors and Kenya’s top CEOs.
After US President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama were tested by LVCT in Kisumu in 2006 there was a huge increase in the number of people being tested at LVCT’s Nyanza site. Through celebrity testing LVCT has seen increases in members of the public visiting their voluntary testing and counselling sites. LVCT’s involvement in NASCOP’s yearly CEO Testing Event also results in a large number of workers being tested, following the example set by their company’s CEO.
“As CEOs we do run business, we do influence a lot of what goes on, people look to us as leaders to lead by example, to preach the gospel and also to encourage others. So, I’d like to encourage other leaders, other CEOs and indeed everybody to really get involved in one way or another because nobody in this Country today can say that they have not been affected one way or another … by HIV AIDS.” Martin Oduor-Otieno CEO Kenya Commercial Bank Group takes a public HIV test every year together with his wife.
In 2011 LVCT tested the Australian High Commissioner to Kenya HE Mr Geoff Tooth and his wife Joanne, together with AusAID representatives and 13 Australian Volunteers for International Development.
“Joanne and I are delighted to help promote HIV prevention by being publicly tested and hope it encourages other couples from all walks of Kenyan life to do the same. HIV testing is vital for the public health of all nations whether it be my homeland of Australia or my new home in Kenya,” said High Commissioner Tooth.