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Zimbabwe’s Mugabe Urges Lawmakers To Be Tested For HIV, Publicly Reveal Status As Part Of New Initiative

In an announcement launching the Zimbabwe Parliamentarians Against HIV (ZIPAH) in Harare on Thursday, Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe said since he came to office in 1980 “quite a number of” his cabinet ministers have died of AIDS-related causes, and he challenged government officials to get tested for HIV and publicly reveal their status, the Zimbabwean reports (3/1). Chaired by lawmaker Blessing Chebundo, ZIPAH “aims to end HIV transmission among legislators and increase cooperation with other groups,” according to VOA News, and “so far 175 parliamentarians, including 25 staff members, have joined the program.” Chebundo “said the first public testing will take place in two months,” the news service notes.

While “some voiced skepticism about the program, pointing to similar initiatives in the past that were actively supported by only a handful of parliamentarians,” other AIDS activists welcomed the initiative, having “long campaigned for high-profile officials living with HIV to come out in the open and join campaigns to help stop the spread of the disease, which has taken a grim toll on the Zimbabwean population over the past three decades,” according to VOA (Gonda/Chikowore, 3/1).