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HIV Campaign Continues on the Edge of Botswana's Okavango Delta
Soldiers from the Botswana Defence Force&#39;s (BDF) 29th Infantry Battalion participated in a month-long HIV/AIDS awareness, prevention and voluntary testing campaign October 26, 2009, at the BDF Camp in Maun, Botswana.<br />
MAUN, Botswana - A "know your status" banner posted outside the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) camp in Maun encourages soldiers to get tested for HIV during an HIV/AIDS awareness, prevention and voluntary testing campaign October, 26, 2009.  The banner is part of an annual BDF campaign to convince soldiers to behave responsibly and to be aware of their HIV status as part of an effort to reduce the incidence of HIV in the force. (U.S. Africa Command photo by Lieutenant Colonel Chris Wyatt)
2 photos: U.S. AFRICOM Photo
Photo 1 of 2: MAUN, Botswana - A "know your status" banner posted outside the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) camp in Maun encourages soldiers to get tested for HIV during an HIV/AIDS awareness, prevention and voluntary testing campaign October, 26, 2009. The banner is part of an annual BDF campaign to convince soldiers to behave responsibly and to be aware of their HIV status as part of an effort to reduce the incidence of HIV in the force. (U.S. Africa Command photo by Lieutenant Colonel Chris Wyatt) Download full-resolution version
MAUN, Botswana - Members of the 29th Infantry Battalion from the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) camp in Maun march to the venue for this year's Operation Survive and Thrive voluntary counselling and testing campaign October 26, 2009.  The annual event encourages BDF soldiers to learn their HIV status through voluntary counselling and testing. (U.S. Africa Command photo by Lieutenant Colonel Chris Wyatt)
2 photos: U.S. AFRICOM Photo
Photo 2 of 2: MAUN, Botswana - Members of the 29th Infantry Battalion from the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) camp in Maun march to the venue for this year's Operation Survive and Thrive voluntary counselling and testing campaign October 26, 2009. The annual event encourages BDF soldiers to learn their HIV status through voluntary counselling and testing. (U.S. Africa Command photo by Lieutenant Colonel Chris Wyatt) Download full-resolution version
MAUN, Botswana - A "know your status" banner posted outside the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) camp in Maun encourages soldiers to get tested for HIV during an HIV/AIDS awareness, prevention and voluntary testing campaign October, 26, 2009.  The banner is part of an annual BDF campaign to convince soldiers to behave responsibly and to be aware of their HIV status as part of an effort to reduce the incidence of HIV in the force. (U.S. Africa Command photo by Lieutenant Colonel Chris Wyatt)
MAUN, Botswana - Members of the 29th Infantry Battalion from the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) camp in Maun march to the venue for this year's Operation Survive and Thrive voluntary counselling and testing campaign October 26, 2009.  The annual event encourages BDF soldiers to learn their HIV status through voluntary counselling and testing. (U.S. Africa Command photo by Lieutenant Colonel Chris Wyatt)
Soldiers from the Botswana Defence Force's (BDF) 29th Infantry Battalion participated in a month-long HIV/AIDS awareness, prevention and voluntary testing campaign October 26, 2009, at the BDF Camp in Maun, Botswana.



Operation Survive and Thrive, now in its fourth year, is held annually to encourage BDF soldiers to learn their HIV status through voluntary counselling and testing. This year's campaign slogan, "Sekwata," is a Setswana language term associated with the military in Botswana that essentially translates as "squad mate" or "battle buddy," aimed to encourage soldiers and their peers to get tested and to promote responsible behaviour.



Maun activities came just days after the main Operation Survive and Thrive launch in Francistown. The campaign launch focused on discussions and presentations with assembled troops in an effort to focus clearly on effecting behaviour change. Troops listened intently to the unit chaplain and the camp's clinic commander, Major Jerius Chabanga, who urged them to consider their actions carefully and be responsible in their sexual behaviour.



Sekwata and Operation Survive and Thrive are part of a cooperative effort between the U.S. Department of Defence and the Botswana Defence Force to reduce the incidence of HIV infection among soldiers, family members and local civilians as well as improve force readiness within the BDF. These campaigns are funded through a $2 million program under the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, managed by the U.S. Africa Command's (AFRICOM) Office of Security Cooperation at the U.S. Embassy in Gaborone.



Troops assigned to 29th Infantry Battalion are responsible for security in the vicinity of Botswana and also provide logistical support for battalions that rotate through the region on operational deployments.



Note: Wyatt is the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) chief of the Office of Security Cooperation at the U.S. Embassy in Gaborone, Botswana



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