Sens. Obama, Brownback To Get HIV tests

By MICHAEL R. BLOOD, Associated Press Writer

LOS ANGELES – Another sign of the new Washington: bipartisan
HIV testing.

At a world AIDS Day conference in California next month, two potential 2008 presidential rivals — Sens. Barack Obama, D-Ill., and Sam Brownback, R-Kan. — will each take an HIV test and encourage others to do the same.

To reduce stigma around the test and publicize its value, “I’m happy to offer my body for science,” Brownback said in a telephone interview Friday.

“People need to get the test,” he added.

Obama press secretary Tommy Vietor said, “If two United States senators can do it, then everyone else can too.”

The senators will take the test Dec. 1 as part of a two-day “Global AIDS Summit” at the Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, which sponsors the annual conference.

Rick Warren, the church’s pastor, took an HIV test at the event last year to bring attention to its importance, said spokesman Larry Ross. The test can be done with a finger-prick to draw a blood sample, or by oral swab.

Obama and Brownback are featured speakers and will appear on a panel titled, “We must work together.”

“I think you are seeing the beginning of a great coming together on the left and right dealing with Africa,” said Brownback, alluding to the continent’s AIDS epidemic and social and economic problems.

At the conference last year, Warren, author of the best-selling “The Purpose Driven Life,” said he’s encouraging other pastors to offer free AIDS testing and counseling at their churches, start service groups to help HIV patients with daily chores and train lay members to administer crucial anti-viral drugs.

Also, see: Starvation And Malnutrition Linked to HIV/AIDS

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