Sadiyya Sheik
Sadiyya Sheik

Would he have disclosed his status if it were positive?

I’ve been told recently about how bold and inspiring a move it was for President Jacob Zuma to disclose his HIV status to the nation. Though I agree that this action is warranted by the president of a country with the highest prevalence of HIV in the world and a definite step-up from the I don’t know anyone who died of HIV or HIV doesn’t cause Aids denial policy — advocated by his predecessor — I can’t help but wonder if we would be privy to such information had the outcome been slightly different.

That been said, one could argue that a negative result could possibly have a more negative impact than a positive result. In effect, a negative result is saying to South Africans: look at me, I can have unsafe sex, skip all the letters of the alphabet in prevention, take a shower and still be HIV-negative. And what’s the difference between you and me? Squat. Zilch. Zip. Zero. After all, I’m one of you. This is not unlike the inference that you don’t have to pass high school to be the president of a country. I am not saying that we are a populace of monkey-see monkey-do pioneers but I am not saying that we aren’t either.

And if the result had been positive? Had we then been privy to the outcome of the test, I suspect there would have been some significant remorse and lessons to be learned.

The point?

HIV is real. If you still need a president, who doesn’t know his ABCs (of prevention), to tell you that then you have missed the boat.

  • Monde

    Mbeki never said he did not know of anyone who died of Aids. A journalist from the Washington Times asked him if he knows anyone ‘in his family’ who died of AIDS, and he said he did not know of any such family member. And for the record, he also never denied the link between HIV and AIDS. The moral regeneration of our society also requires that we internalize the practice of telling the truth at all times, regardless of our ideological standpoints

  • Ash

    I doubt he’d have ‘disclosed’ if the test had not been negative.
    But then can what he says be trusted anyway?

  • Howard Klaaste

    Declare more

    The President had no obligation to declare his HIV status to the nation, as it is quite understood that it is a confidential matter. He took the blood test and this view was communicated to us in the media. Nobody would take him to task for withholding such information.

    I would rather like the president to declare his financial interests in more detail, specifically whether the one million rand owed to Shabir had been paid back in full, whether Mr. Shaik had written it off as bad debt, or whether it was intended to be a gift all along?

    That answer would really make me proud of our President.

  • Graham Johnson

    Spot on, Sadiyya. You have summarised it well. ‘Monkey see, monkey do’ is the modus operandi of the ANC and its followers since 1994 and it is getting worse. Let’s all vote for them and then no-one will ever get AIDS or be attacked as a foreigner or have dirty water to drink or swim in sewage or anything nasty. And there will always be a ‘plan’ to fix everything from every mayor of every town. Tomorrow.

  • pete ess


  • MsAnnThrope

    I’ve also been somewhat reluctant to join all the people who have heaved a collective sigh of relief at our president suddenly revealing his HIV status…
    The problem is that our standards for acceptable behaviour for a politician have sunk so low, that when he doesnt fcuk up entirely, we’re grateful. Kinda sad really.

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  • Mtimande

    A few days ago I requested Khaya and many like-minded writers to stop writing about Zuma from the premise of revulsion, you are doing the same. When it comes to our President misanthropists tend to play the man and not the ball, why? Why goal posts are always shifted when it comes to Msholozi?

    Be repulsed by him but do not use your pen to further polarize the country and undermine every positive action he does.

    Mtimande! Bambo lunye, Mabuya angabuyi!

  • Benzol

    Between the general perception of globally accepted moral standards, ethical values and the public behaviour of politicians, we might have to adjust our moral standards and ethical values to make it acceptable.

  • William Smith

    How do we know that his blood was even tested – it’s just pre-planned political window-dressing. Supposing that it’s true that Zuma is HIV negative, it sends a strong message that all you need to avoid HIV is a shower after sex – forget about using condoms. Thank goodness that Zapiro regularly reminds us of the reality of this ‘president’.

  • Owen

    I don’t believe the guy nor do I trust him.

    He got out of going to jail by bullying the NPA. So anything is possible with JZ.

  • MsDiva

    Why should we take Mr President’s word for it? I wont believe him until I see it in writing. And what scares me the most is that people will be more irresponsible, doing whatever and running to take showers, it worked for him, it should work for everybody. With the Brilliant Minister of Health we have now I honestly hope our President will be able to stand for what he has possibly started. God save us

  • The Creator

    That’s a huge problem, of course, and it’s not just Zuma’s problem.

  • Siobhan

    Would or wouldn’t Zuma have revealed the result if it had been positive for HIV? Given that before the test, Zuma, insisted that results would be kept private, I think he would not have announced it.

    The speculation, of course, would have followed him forever. But having announced his disease-free status, he has something more than speculation to worry about: discovery of the disease as many as ten years from the date he had unprotected sex with an HIV positive woman.

    HIV has an indefinite incubation period and it could reach active status at any time which is why people who had or have unprotected sex need to repeat the test several times a year. The country seems to have developed collective amnesia about that. We also seem to forget that men can carry the virus without symptoms for long periods of time. The women Mr. Zuma sleeps with sans protection are still at risk.

    Let’s see if there is ever another HIV test down on Zuma…

  • Rich Brauer

    Arguably, one of the best outcomes we could have would be a government minister testing positive and willingly releasing that information.

    Seeing that an HIV+ person can still be successful and active and open about his or her status would be immensely helpful in removing the stigma.

  • Siobhan

    Correction: I meant TEST DONE ON ZUMA IN FUTURE!

  • nguni

    His statements regarding his status mean nothing, except to his adoring masses..

  • Heinrich

    see Rich Brauer’s comment.