President Jacob Zuma has told the world that he’s clean from the deadly HIV saying he regularly takes HIV tests.
He said the disclosure of his status is aimed at promoting openness in a country where the United Nations estimates 5,7-million people out of a population of 48-million, are HIV-positive.
Said Zuma on Sunday, “After careful consideration, I have decided to share my results with all South Africans… to promote openness. I’m sure South Africans will know I am very open.”
“My April results, like the three previous ones, registered a negative outcome for the HI virus”. The most recent test was on April 8.
Zuma was widely ridiculed for saying in 2006, while he was on trial for allegedly raping an HIV-positive family friend, that he did not use a condom when he had sex with the woman but showered afterwards to minimise the risk of infection.
His sex life again came under intense scrutiny earlier this year when he admitted fathering an illegitimate child with the daughter of soccer tycoon Irvin Khoza.
Opposition parties charged that his marital infidelity and failure to practise safe sex had dealt a severe blow to the state’s efforts to combat HIV. However, Zuma said that by disclosing his status his aim was not to put pressure on any citizen to do the same.
“Anyone’s HIV status is private and confidential. Disclosure is an individual decision. We must respect the decisions of those who choose to keep their status confidential, whether positive or negative,” Zuma said.
South Africa has kick started an ambitious program aimed at getting 15-million people tested by the end of June 2011.
The government says the campaign is also aimed at educating and mobilising people to acknowledge their status, and enrolling those in need of treatment onto anti-retroviral drugs.