I agree with President Robert Gabriel Mugabe!
When His Excellency gave a TV interview to a Chinese news channel very few people paid attention to the contents of the interview. A discerning journalist picked it up and flighted it in The Herald under the banner “President Mugabe calls for compulsory HIV testing.’’
Picture these scenarios.
- A 34 year old man is arrested for forcing himself onto a 16 year old girl at a lodge. Mind you there is no charge about abduction but the two are said to have fallen in love some time ago. The issue only came to light when he tried to have the girl undergo an abortion.
- A man takes a teen girl to hotel on a date. He has unprotected sex with her and upon returning home her parents chase her away for coming home late. She elopes to him; they stay as man and wife, she falls pregnant, tests HIV +, the man refuses to test but continues to have unprotected sex with her until 2 dead children later when he is forced to go and test and tests positive. He is arrested and faces criminal charges relating to deliberately exposing someone to HIV Infection.
- A born again brother meets a sister in church, the brother is a steadfast Christian and a virgin. The sister is recently born again but having had the ‘worldly experience’ including a few sexual escapades during ‘satanic bondage’. They marry and the brother loses his virginity and gets an STI on the honeymoon night.
- A man on the rebound finds ‘love’ in a senior lady who pledges undying love and six months later she refuses to have condoms used on her ‘as if she is a lady of the night’. The enthralled brother construes it to imply trust and ‘swims’ the ocean un-costumed. A year later she succumbs to a chest infection, is hospitalized, tests HIV + and in the middle of a family squabble her sister blurts out that the lady was aware of her status since four years back since the death of a headmaster that she was a small house to.
Needless to say, we all have at one time encountered similar scenarios and all this bedlam has done is to exacerbate the spread of this scourge. Despite media drives to de-stigmatize this issue many people would rather die in ignorance than know their status. I have seen big men wilt as they await their test results. For a moment your whole life is replayed and all the microscopic details are splashed before your mental HD screen.
While the President’s statement might come across as stentorian but in it is an appeal to all Zimbabweans to understand that knowledge is power. In it is an admission that without knowing our statuses and using that knowledge to live more positively we are doomed. This coming from a leader must be read to be an impassioned plea to save ourselves from our own selves. Knowing your status, positive or negative, is a key to living your life adeptly. I know of men who would rather use procreation as their test method. They look at their infant children and as the tots grow older the fathers pride themselves of being untainted!!
What I read in the President’s speech is a cry to all people to take up a cause of self-preservation. What we need to do as a nation is to return to childhood where we proudly wore those school badges that were emblazoned with the motto KNOWLEDGE IS POWER. I aver that if all stipulations were met, with appropriate privacy and information dissemination, compulsory testing is the key to our emerging from this scourge that is threatening to obliterate humanity.
How many innocent victims must die before we realize this reality? How many gullible people must die before this genocidal tendency is nipped in the bud. From most conversations I have had people are more scared of the tests than the eventual results. What is missing is the national courage to stand up, walk into a New Start center and get to know one’s status. What we need therefore is the urging on for I still believe that knowledge is power.
Tough but true. Hard but possible.