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AIDS Activists To Bush: Don't Forget Zimbabwe - 2003-07-11


UNAIDS estimates two point three million people in Zimbabwe are infected with HIV, the AIDS virus. Of that, 240-thousand are orphans. In addition, UNAIDS says 500 people a day in Zimbabwe are dying of the disease.

President Bush’s tour of Africa does not include Zimbabwe, which has brought reaction from AIDS activists in that country. They are calling on President Bush not to ignore their country because of the current political problems.

The group, Zimbabwe Activists on HIV & AIDS, praises Mr. Bush’s 15-billion dollar Aids initiative. But Zimbabwe is not listed as being one of the beneficiaries, despite ad adult HIV infection rate of 34-percent. Tapiwanashe Kujinga is spokesperson for the group. From Harare, he spoke to English to Africa Joe De Capua about his group, issued a statement on president bush’s AIDS policy.

Mr. Kujinga says Mr. Bush’s emphasis on Zimbabwe is political because of the policies of President Mugabe. He says Mr. Bush “left out the most important issue which is the HIV/AIDS pandemic that is wreaking havoc in Zimbabwe.” He asks, “Why are we being left out? We cannot be punished on the HIV/AIDS issue at the same time as a political issue.” He says the Clinton Foundation, founded by former US President Clinton, is also “not focusing on Zimbabwe.”

He says those infected and affected by the disease “have borne the brunt of the current economic and political challenges.” He says during difficult times, stigma and discrimination against those who are HIV positive worsen. He describes the situation as “hostile.”

Mr. Kujinga says the health infrastructure needs to be restored and antiretroviral drugs be made readily available.

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