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Thu Oct 23 18:33:01 SAST 2014

Zuma takes HIV test to kick off campaign

DOMINIC MAHLANGU | 08 April, 2010 23:160 Comments

President Jacob Zuma took a blood test to kickstart the government's campaign to encourage people to find out about their HIV status.

Zuma came under pressure recently after he admitted fathering a child out of wedlock. Opposition parties accused him of undermining his government's efforts to fight the Aids pandemic. The Congress of the People tried, but failed, to pass a vote of no confidence in his leadership.

Yesterday, Zuma said the country must fight the epidemic.

"I have taken HIV tests before, and I know my status. I will do another test soon as part of this new campaign. I urge you to start planning for your own tests," Zuma said.

Months after taking office as president of the country last year, Zuma unveiled his government's new approach to the fight against HIV.

Part of the new approach will see the broadening of drug therapy for HIV-positive babies and pregnant women.

The new approach also involves a massive testing campaign.

Zuma said testing was voluntary and confidential, and there should be no fear of being tested.

"The tests are confidential and private. People do not have to take a public test or release their results if they do not want to do so.

"Everybody's privacy and dignity must be respected by the health professionals and the public in general. We must also respect the HIV status of all South Africans, whether positive or negative, and support each other to deal with this epidemic," he said.

The country needed to fight the stigma attached to the disease, he said. A positive result "was not a death sentence".

"It is a difficult decision to take. But it is a decision that must be taken by people from all walks of life, of all races, all social classes, and all positions in society. HIV does not discriminate."

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