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.