Zimbabwe lawmakers tested for HIV

2012-06-21 19:47

Harare - Dozens of Zimbabwean lawmakers on Thursday underwent HIV tests at parliament, with many pledging to undergo circumcision the following day, at the start of a new anti-Aids campaign.

At least 60 members of parliament from the country's two main political parties took turns to receive counselling, before getting tested in a makeshift clinic set up inside the parliament building.

"Tomorrow we will proceed with circumcision. So far about 60 MPs have been tested," said Patience Dube, spokesperson for Population Services International, the organisation conducting the tests.

Zimbabwe has made gains in fighting HIV, which infected 14% of the population in 2009, down from 23% in 2003, according to the United Nations.

"The response has been very overwhelming as the MPs came out in large numbers," said Dube.

More lawmakers were expected to undergo tests on Friday when they take the campaign to a public square in the capital.

Blessing Chebundo, a lawmaker from Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's party, said taking part in the campaign was his way of leading from the front.

"By knowing my status, I am trying to fight discrimination. What we are doing here is unique," said Chebundo.

"This also inspires the people we represent to follow suit," he said, adding that the campaign will help the government to formulate better policies to fight the pandemic.

Zimbabwe has 1.1 million people living with HIV, including 150 000 children, according to the National Aids Council.

"I tested negative and I am very happy. The sad thing is that although women MPs are here in full force, our male counterparts have been slow in having tests," said Sarah Mahoka, a lawmaker from President Robert Mugabe's party.

In March, Mugabe told parliament that some of his political allies had died of Aids, in a rare open talk about the disease.

  • buzzardfrey - 2012-06-21 20:13

    How many have done so in SA? Only Zuma?

  • eddie.serane - 2012-06-21 20:27

    If our fellow Africans can do the same ,hands up 2 Zim lawmarkers

  • mathoki - 2012-06-21 20:27

    Better late, than never. Its good to see some form of change hit Zimbabwe, I hope South African parliamentarians and other African countries take note. Its better to lead through actions than big mouths. So. When is Mugabe testing?

  • Stephan Swanepoel - 2012-06-21 20:30

    Let's hope all the law makers are positive! Then change might come sooner than we hoped for!

      mothenem1 - 2012-06-22 07:32

      If those suposed to fight for the nation are infected day

  • Lyndatjie - 2012-06-21 20:39

    Sad that they threw the wrong piece away when they circumcized Mugabe...

  • Gerda Malherbe - 2012-06-21 20:42

    Its not that there are fewer Zims with aids, there are fewer Zims in Zim. They're all illegally in SA!!

  • Vickela Mumby - 2012-06-22 07:00

    Leading by example!

  • jwarha.balakisa - 2012-06-22 07:30

    You can rule a country if you a not circumcised. You only need to look at how IFP is managed. Umbutho wamakhwenkwe.

      adolph.diego - 2012-06-22 10:28

      please man you have to understand that a man must clean and neat but you can rule a country but in society a man when you are circumcised you fell totally comfortable in front of your wife and you have 1000 chance of to contaminated so Mugabe is very clever

  • ml66uk - 2012-06-22 14:30

    From a USAID report: "There appears no clear pattern of association between male circumcision and HIV prevalence—in 8 of 18 countries with data, HIV prevalence is lower among circumcised men, while in the remaining 10 countries it is higher." The South African National Communication Survey on HIV/AIDS, 2009 found that 15% of adults across age groups "believe that circumcised men do not need to use condoms". From the committee of the South African Medical Association Human Rights, Law & Ethics Committee : "the Committee expressed serious concern that not enough scientifically-based evidence was available to confirm that circumcisions prevented HIV contraction and that the public at large was influenced by incorrect and misrepresented information. The Committee reiterated its view that it did not support circumcision to prevent HIV transmission." The one randomized controlled trial into male-to-female transmission showed a 54% higher rate in the group where the men had been circumcised btw: ABC (Abstinence, Being faithful, and especially Condoms) is the way forward. Promoting genital surgery seems likely to cost African lives rather than save them.

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