South African MP Ruth Bhengu appealed to stop politicising HIV
MP's revelation on HIV is 'an important incident'
May 11, 2001, 10:01 AM
SABC News online
"Judy Nwokedi says more public figures will slowly come out in public
about their HIV status"
Senior ANC MP, Ruth Bhengu addressing parliament
Yesterday's public announcement by an ANC MP that her daughter is HIV
positive has been welcomed by many as the first step towards breaking
the silence and denial surrounding the disease in South Africa.
Ruth Bhengu told a hushed National Assembly that her daughter is HIV
positive and appealed to parliamentarians to stop politicising the
"This has been an important incident in case history," says Judy
Nwokedi, a partner in the HIV/Aids advocacy consortium, Love Life.
Nwokedi says the deafening silence can be largely blamed on the so-
cial stigma associated with HIV, discrimination, and lack of incen-
tives and factors associated with wellness programmes.
"How you are treated after you reveal your status also affects this,"
Nwokedi was quick to caution that even though Bhengu had set a trend
for public figures, revealing one's HIV status still remained a pri-
vate decision to take, but "Bhengu took a courageous stand".
The MP joins the IFP's Thomas Shabalala, a KwaZulu-Natal provincial
legislature member, who too went public when he revealed earlier this
year that his son, a policeman, was HIV positive.
South African Broadcasting Corporation, Copyright (c) 2001 SABC
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