Speech by President Jacob Zuma as he took an HIV/AIDS test
“On the 1st of December 2009, we unveiled a new approach in the fight against HIV and AIDS in the country.
We announced several treatment and prevention measures, which were to be implemented from the 1st of April 2010.
The programme has begun. Part of the new approach involves a massive testing campaign by all South Africans. We made a call in December to mobilise all South Africans to get tested for HIV. We reiterate that every South African should know his or her HIV status.
Government had planned to launch a massive testing campaign on the 15th of April. However we have to postpone the campaign as I will be out of the country, on a working visit to the United States and Brazil. A new date will be announced soon.
However, I decided to take my test today, 8 April 2010. I am doing so to encourage as many South Africans as possible to do the same, as part of the build up to the public launch. When launching the campaign on World Aids Day, I said:
“The HIV tests are voluntary and they are confidential. We know that it is not easy. 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. I am making arrangements for my own test. 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.”
I want to emphasise that following principles:
– 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 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.
– In case the test results are positive, HIV is not a crime and is no longer a death sentence. That is why we announced new measures in December, to enable South Africans to manage the condition and live productively with it in the event of testing positive.
– We need to work together to fight the stigma attached to the epidemic. We must also address the problem of discrimination through lifting the silence and shame that is associated with the virus and the disease.
We must all play our role to fight the epidemic”.