A Little Kiss Was Big Help in Spreading Word on AIDS

Princess Kasune Zulu of Zambia, a royal member of Zambia's Lenji people, has worked as an AIDS educator since learning she was HIV-infected six years ago. Speaking at an April White House event to build support for President Bush's $15 billion AIDS plan, the 27-year-old princess told of being excommunicated from the Pentecostal church and standing up to her 51-year-old husband when she wanted to go public with her condition.

Then the president kissed her on the cheek. That image went around the world, drawing more attention to the princess and giving her greater credibility as an advocate for the HIV-infected.

"It was God-ordained that he would kiss me," the princess said last Friday in New Orleans. She was there to address a Pentecostal missions conference; the Pentecostal church has welcomed her back into the fold.

"I believe the only way I'll be proud of my royal lineage is to serve the people," she said. "As a woman who has royalty in her, I want to leave a legacy."

The princess is an AIDS educator with the Zambia branch of World Vision, an international Christian relief organization. She said there's no time to lose in a poor country like Zambia, where roughly 2.5 million people -- approximately 21 percent of the population -- have HIV.

"There is still denial," the princess said. "In Africa, people will feel that it can't happen to them. I tell people that HIV needs no passport to cross borders. It can strike anywhere, at any time."