South African Deputy President Calls on Men to Join Fight Against HIV/AIDS
South African Deputy President Jacob Zuma on Saturday appealed directly to men to respect the right of women to refuse sex or request the use of a condom, SAPA/BBC Monitoring reports (SAPA/BBC Monitoring, 10/5). Speaking at a "Men's Imbizo," Zuma urged men to join the national fight against HIV/AIDS so the country could fight the epidemic "as a united force." Zuma said that the forum's theme, "South African Men Care Enough to Act," should be "translated into action." He said men in particular should be concerned with the HIV/AIDS epidemic because men are at a higher risk of contracting HIV than women and because women are often "unable to negotiate safe behavior" themselves and must rely on men to "act responsibly" (South African Press Association, 10/5). He also called for citizens to dispel the myth that having sex with a virgin will cure HIV/AIDS, a myth that has spawned a series of child rapes in South Africa. "You can do your part by communicating to discourage any further rape, and by coming forward with information so that we can work together to protect our children," Zuma said. He added that "[m]ore than any other initiative in South Africa, the partnership has the capacity to present a united response to the scourge of HIV and AIDS." The initiative was launched in 1998 by former President Nelson Mandela and current President Thabo Mbeki (SAPA/BBC Monitoring, 10/5).
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