Former South Africa Deputy President's Remarks About HIV/AIDS Anger Educators
April 6, 2006
Comments about HIV/AIDS made by former South African Deputy President Jacob Zuma during his rape trial earlier this week "have angered [HIV/]AIDS educators," BBC News reports (BBC News, 4/5). Zuma, a former chair of South Africa's AIDS Council, currently is on trial in the Johannesburg High Court for allegedly raping a 31-year-old, HIV-positive woman. He told the court he had unprotected sex with the woman believing his risk of contracting HIV was "minimal," South Africa's Mail and Guardian reports (Eetgerink, Mail and Guardian, 4/5). HIV/AIDS advocates say Zuma's testimony undermines HIV-prevention campaigns by incorrectly impressing upon people that men are not at risk for contracting HIV by having unprotected sex with HIV-positive women, VOA News reports (VOA News, 4/5). David Harrison -- CEO for loveLife, South Africa's national HIV-prevention program for youth -- said Zuma's admission that he had unprotected sex with an HIV-positive woman is "typical" of the "problems" faced in preventing the spread of HIV in the country (Mail and Guardian, 4/5). Zuma on Wednesday testified that in order to reduce the risk of contracting HIV from the woman, he showered after the encounter, according to BBC News (BBC News, 4/5). "Due to campaigns and education," HIV/AIDS awareness in South Africa is "very high, but when it comes to people personally, they tend to think they are not at risk," Harrison said. According to Harrison, root causes for the prevalence of unprotected sex in the country include coercion, peer pressure and low self-esteem, as well as the pressure women face to have sex and the belief that some men have that they are entitled to sex. "It is not until these underlying drivers and social practices so embedded in South African culture are dealt with that things are going to change," Harrison said (Mail and Guardian, 4/5).
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