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HIV tests scare Zanu PF bigwigs

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Zanu PF PF bigwigs on Friday snubbed a voluntary HIV testing session at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF), leaving school pupils to participate.

The voluntary mass HIV testing and counselling which lasted for an hour at a mobile United Bulawayo Hospitals clinic on the sidelines of the Zanu PF conference, was meant to ensure the party leads the fight against the pandemic.

Health experts argue that early testing can save millions of lives as it allows those who test positive for HIV to immediately start taking life-saving drugs.

President Robert Mugabe told a national HIV/Aids conference in September that some of his close aides were receiving anti-retroviral treatment, but were “running from one woman to the other”.

Zanu PF sources told NewsDay that the party’s senior officials who were supposed to lead by example pretended nothing was happening and went about their business as usual.

There are close to 3 000 delegates attending the Zanu PF annual conference at the ZITF and the indaba could be used as a channel to fight stigma and encourage people to know their status.

Zanu PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo and his commissariat counterpart, Webster Shamu, could not immediately comment on the issue, insisting they were busy at the conference.

The mass testing and counselling comes days after the marking of the World Aids Day on December 1. The day is specifically dedicated to raising awareness of the Aids pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection.

Zanu PF has said although the testing was voluntary, it hoped most delegates would opt and “set the tone in the fight against HIV/Aids”.

Announcing the initiative last month, the Zanu PF provincial secretary for Bulawayo Tirinani Mafuwa said the intention was to “destigmatise HIV and encourage people to know their status”.

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