Heroes dying of AIDS – Mugabe

BY GIFT PHIRI
HARARE - President Robert Mugabe has cautioned his lieutenants against irresponsible sexual behaviour revealing that he lost scores of his own family members to the HIV/AIDS scourge.
Without naming anyone, he told a Heroes Day commemoration that those who were supposed to enjoy

the fruits of the liberation struggle were dying due to HIV/AIDS.
He warned ministers and senior civil servants to be vigilant and desist from exposing themselves to risky sexual behaviour, adding no group was immune to risk.
“Hachitari munhu, hachina ishe, kana madzishe anorigwa nacho. Hazvinei kuti wakasarudzwa navaMugabe kuti uve minister, chakugata unoenda six feet down (No-one is immune to risk even chiefs and ministers),” Mugabe said.
Referring to his own family, Mugabe did not specify which members had been affected by the virus, but said sufferers included “the extended family of… the president himself”.
“Ndarasikirwa nevakawanda (I have lost many relatives to this disease),” Mugabe said.
Looking haggard, the 82-year-old-leader said HIV/AIDS was “one of the greatest challenges” facing Zimbabwe but added it was not insurmountable.
Critics say the issue, long taboo, has been overshadowed by other problems, including Zimbabwe’s unprecedented economic collapse.
Mugabe said there was an urgent need to draw up a strategy to fight the disease in a country where official figures show that almost a quarter of the adult population are infected with HIV – one of the highest rates in the world.
Health officials say that despite the prevalence of AIDS in Zimbabwe, deaths are more commonly blamed on TB, cancer or, more vaguely, on a long illness.
Although efforts have been made by health officials and international agencies to break down the taboo, many of those with AIDS suffer and die in silence.

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