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Last updated at 13:37 BST, Monday, 26 April 2010

Jacob Zuma reveals HIV status

Summary

26 April 2010

South Africa's president has revealed that he is HIV negative.

Jacob Zuma made the announcement at the launch of a new AIDS initiative.

Reporter:
Andrew Harding

South Africa's President Jacob Zuma

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Report

President Zuma said he was revealing his HIV status to promote openness, and to eradicate the silence and stigma that accompanies the AIDS epidemic. He told a crowd at a hospital near Johannesburg that he'd now had four tests - all negative. Mr Zuma's sex life has been the focus of intense scrutiny and criticism in South Africa. He has three wives and has also admitted to having unprotected sex with other women.

But if his private life is controversial, his public stance on AIDS has been broadly welcomed here. His predecessor, Thabo Mbeki, questioned mainstream AIDS science, and delayed the provision of life-saving drugs. Mr Zuma, in contrast, is taking a much more proactive role. The campaign he's now backing hopes to get 15 million people tested over the next year, and provide drugs to 80% of those needing them.

South Africa is the worst affected country in the world. According to UN figures, almost one in eight people are HIV positive.

Andrew Harding, BBC News

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Vocabulary

to promote openness

to encourage people to be honest and talk freely

to eradicate

to stop or destroy something negative

stigma

feeling that something is socially unacceptable

epidemic

particular disease which affects a large number of people at the same time

the focus of intense scrutiny

a lot of people are looking at his behaviour very carefully (especially to see if he has done something wrong)

having unprotected sex

having a sexual relationship with someone without using a condom to protect each person from sexually transmitted diseases

his private life is controversial

a lot of people have very strong and differing opinions about what he does outside of his public duties as president

stance

publicly stated opinion or belief

broadly welcomed

most people thought it was a good idea

is taking a much more proactive role

is being someone who takes action by causing change (rather than only reacting to change when it happens)

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