26 April 2010
South African President Jacob Zuma, launching the country’s HIV Counselling and Testing campaign on Sunday, announced that he was HIV-negative – while stressing that people’s results always remained private and confidential.
Zuma, who took his own HIV test on 8 April to promote the campaign, said he had chosen to disclose his status in order to give leadership, not to put pressure on South Africans to do the same.
“Anyone’s HIV status is private and confidential. Disclosure is an individual decision,” Zuma said at the campaign launch at Natalspruit Hospital in Ekurhuleni.
“After careful consideration, I decided to share my results with all South Africans. The purpose is to promote openness and to eradicate the silence and stigma that accompanies this epidemic.
“We will not win the war against Aids if we engage in witch-hunts against people and start campaigns of who is positive or negative as if this was a game. It is a serious matter,” Zuma said.
“This was my fourth test, as I have decided to take the test at regular intervals. I encourage all to do the same.”
Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi and Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane were the first to get tested on Sunday, with councilors, religious and traditional leaders also joining the queue to get tested.
Eighty cubicles from government and the private sector were made available for the general public who wanted to get tested for HIV, diabetes, hypertension, high blood pressure and other diseases.
Motsoaledi said the government was ready for the campaign.
“I’ve sent letters to all hospital CEOs and all leaders in various sectors asking them to take the lead and get tested. I’ll also send letters to all councilors and news editors asking them to be the first ones to take the test.”