News / Africa

Zimbabwe Parliament Members Go 'Under the Knife'

Scene inside Zimbabwe's parliamentScene inside Zimbabwe's parliament
Scene inside Zimbabwe's parliament
Scene inside Zimbabwe's parliament
HARARE - Zimbabwe's parliament joined a campaign this week to combat the spread of the AIDS virus, and the stigma associated with the disease.  Dozens of parliament members were tested for HIV infection, and some of men in the chamber went a big step further - allowing themselves to be circumcised, which reduces the chance they might spread the virus. The campaign is led by a group known as Zimbabwe Parliamentarians Against HIV and AIDS.
After the speeches and music, 23 members of parliament went to meet a surgeon waiting in a nearby clinic.  Leading the pack of MPs to be circumcised was Blessing Chebundo, head of Zimbabwe Parliamentarians against HIV and AIDS.

"Initially I thought I was going to have a lot of pain…It was imaginary in my mind… I feel like I can go in the football field and play the game," Chebundo said.

Male circumcision has proven to reduce the chance of HIV transmission by at least 60 percent.  Chebundo said he now wants officials in Zimbabwe's unity government to do what Zimbabwean MPs did this week.
Three months ago, President Robert Mugabe said he worried that many senior members of his ZANU-PF party were dying of HIV-related ailments.  The president said he believes that politicians revealing their HIV status will help combat the spread of the virus and reduce the stigma of HIV.  But the 88-year-old president has not made public his own HIV status.  No one knows if Mr. Mugabe has even been tested for HIV.  

Marvellous Khumalo explains why he is among lawmakers who got tested and circumcised:

"It is for personal benefits… You would understand that being circumcised reduces the rate of infection by 60 percent.  And I am doing this for the people I represent… to urge the men and boys from there to follow and be smart," Khumalo said.

MP Chebundo thinks the media has a role to play as well.

"With your help to publicize what we have done, I am sure people will come of their shells and follow suit and this is the intention of why we are doing it.  We want to inspire the people we represent. From here we're going to our constituencies.  We go as a group and preach and encourage... leading dignitaries to follow suit and this is going to happen," Chebundo said.

The HIV prevalence rate in Zimbabwe has dropped steadily for over a decade, falling to 13 percent in 2009.   That still left about 1.2 million Zimbabweans living with the virus as of that year.

You May Like

Pakistan Among Developing Countries Hit Hard by Global Warming

Pakistani officials hope developed nations agree to scale back emissions, offer help in dealing with climate change

Video Speed, Social Media Shape Counterterrorism Probes

Speed is critical in effort to prevent subsequent attacks; demographics of extremists lend themselves to communicating, establishing profiles on digital platforms

Islamic State Oil Trade Seduces Friends, Foes Alike

Terrorist group rakes in up to $500 million a year in sales to customers such as Syrian government, US-supported rebels and Turkey

By the Numbers

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Social Media Aids Counter-Terrorism Investigationsi
Katherine Gypson
December 01, 2015 10:06 PM
In the aftermath of the Paris attacks, officials carried out waves of raids and arrests to break up terror cells. As VOA's Katherine Gypson reports, social media can be a key tool for investigators.

Video Social Media Aids Counter-Terrorism Investigations

In the aftermath of the Paris attacks, officials carried out waves of raids and arrests to break up terror cells. As VOA's Katherine Gypson reports, social media can be a key tool for investigators.

Video Russia Marks World AIDS Day With Grim News

While HIV infection rates have steadied or even declined in many European countries, the caseload has grown rapidly in Russia, as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow. Over half of the new infections were transmitted through injection drug use.

Video Pakistan Hit Hard by Global Warming

As world leaders meet in Paris to craft a new global agreement aimed at cutting climate-changing greenhouse-gas emissions, many developing countries are watching closely for the final results. While most developing nations contribute much less to global warming than developed countries, they often feel the effects to a disproportionate degree. As Saud Zafar reports from Karachi, one such nation is Pakistan. Aisha Khalid narrates his report.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle and Kimlong Meng report from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

VOA Blogs