23 June 2012

Zimbabwe: At Least 40 Legislators Circumcised

AT least 40 legislators were yesterday circumcised under the Zimbabwe Parliamentarians Against HIV and Aids programme.

ZIPAH is a voluntary organisation made up of Members of Parliament aimed at promoting awareness and fighting stigma associated with HIV and Aids.

A total of 107 legislators, their spouses and Parliament staff members underwent HIV counselling and testing at a clinic at Parliament Building in Harare on Wednesday.

The initiative dubbed; "Parliamentarians making the smart choice", seeks to send a message to constituencies to encourage the grassroots to follow suit.

Population Services International Zimbabwe country director Ms Louisa Norman hailed the legislators for taking such an important step in promoting male circumcision.

"These are leaders setting an example for their communities, their constituencies and the country as a whole.

"They can help create an environment in which being circumcised is the norm for men," Ms Norman said.

She said Zimbabwe needs to build momentum on male circumcision and if 1,2 million men were circumcised by 2015, the country can prevent an estimated 750 000 new HIV and Aids cases.

She urged more leaders to take up the challenge and lead Zimbabwe into an HIV-free era.

Health and Child Welfare Minister Henry Madzorera said male circumcision was one of the proven and cost-effective methods in preventing HIV that Government had adopted.

"If our leaders are role models, their communities could emulate the example shown today. I believe we can easily reach and surpass the targets that we have set ourselves to achieve," he said.

Zipah chairperson Mr Blessing Chebundo, who was also circumcised, said the process was not as painful as he initially feared.

He urged fellow legislators to follow suit.

"I feel proud! We have accomplished. I can go and speak proudly and urge others to do the same," Mr Chebundo said.

Deputy Prime Minister Thokazani Khupe and Speaker of Parliament Lovemore Moyo who were also tested disclosed their status to fellow parliamentarians.

Both indicated that they tested negative and challenged fellow members to disclose their status whether positive or negative while giving testimonies in Africa Unity Square.

"I tested negative and I am lucky. I am saying this because we all do indulge," Mr Moyo said, drawing laughter from the crowd.

DPM Khupe said she was happy with her negative status and encouraged all Zimbabweans to be tested and live a healthy life.

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