About 44 male Zimbabwe Members of Parliament have voluntarily signed onto a campaign to get circumcised in an effort to battle HIV/AIDS. Dozens more of deputies and parliamentary staff underwent HIV tests.
According to 2009 statistics from UNAIDS, there are approximately 1.2 million people living with HIV. About 150,000 of those people are children between zero and 14 and 83,000 deaths occurred due to AIDS.
Zimbabwe Member of Parliament Blessing Chebundo helped launch the Zimbabwe Parliamentarians Against Aids campaign to create awareness and reduce the number of HIV and AIDS cases. Chebundo, who was the first to undergo a circumcision at a small makeshift clinic in the Parliament House, said he started this effort to inspire others to do the same thing.
The MP said there are more than 120 MPs, parliamentary staff and deputies interested in the circumcision program. Reuters is reporting that at least 44 MPs from President Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change were circumcised.
Deputy Prime Minister Thokozani Khupe and House Speaker Lovemore Moyo underwent HIV testing.
“When I went in there I was a bit scared but after they had explained the process I felt at ease,” said Chebundo in an interview with the news outlet. “Now I don't feel any pain. I can even go and play a match of football.” Doctors and medical staff have urged Chebundo to not participate in sexual intercourse for more than a month and to come back three times for follow-up treatment.
Chebundo, chairman of the parliamentary panel on health, told the Associated Press that until recently the Zimbabwean government has lacked a commitment to combating HIV/AIDS. Agence-France Presse notes that in March President Mugabe told the parliament that some of his closest political allies have perished due to AIDs.
This initiative, which was launched three years ago, hopes to reach 1.2 million males by the year 2015.