Running to Raise Awareness of Pediatric HIV/AIDS
On the spectacularly clear and crisp morning of February 27, 4,000 runners took part in the Kilimanjaro Marathon in Moshi, Tanzania. The annual race, which also includes a half-marathon, and five-kilometer fun run, is the largest athletic event in Tanzania. The event covers the beautiful terrain below the majestic, snow-capped Mount Kilimanjaro, attracting runners, fans, and vendors from around the world.
Led by Jeroen van’t Pad Bosch, the Foundation’s country director for Tanzania, 20 Foundation staff and supporters ran the race wearing t-shirts that advocate for the elimination of pediatric AIDS.
Foundation staff and friends prepare to run the
Joining the Foundation in the run were 13 HIV-positive young adults. All members of a Foundation-supported adolescent support group, the teens competed in the fun run to demonstrate that adherence to care and treatment leads to healthier and more energetic lives.
In addition to running the marathon, the Foundation hosted a tent in the stadium fairgrounds where the race began and ended. Volunteers and staff shared information about the Foundation’s work in Tanzania, educated race participants about HIV/AIDS, and provided HIV testing with Foundation partner AMREF, counseling those that tested positive.
More than 200 people were tested during the day and three tested positive.
“We wanted to use the marathon as an opportunity bring awareness of the Foundation, and its mission to prevent and eliminate pediatric AIDS to participants and observers,” said van’t Pad Bosch. “The route was tough, with steep climbs and descents so our legs were hurting after the race. That didn’t stop us from reporting to the Foundation booth.”
Members of the teen support group helped staffed the booth, speaking openly about their treatment experiences, activities organized by the club, plans for the future, and the positive work of the Foundation. Their activism at the event was inspiring for Foundation staff, and those that they spoke with throughout the day.
The physical beauty of Mount Kilimanjaro made the shared passion and commitment of the Foundation staff and teens living with HIV all the more poignant.
Sean Maher is a country officer and is based in Washington, D.C. Mercy Nyanda is the communication and outreach coordinator for the Foundation’s Tanzania office. She is based in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.