SOUTH AFRICA: Bongi Rubushe, "I think it is good that President Jacob Zuma announced his HIV status"
"Testing is good, but treating people is another issue"
JOHANNESBURG, 28 April 2010 (IRIN) - Bongi Rubushe, 24, is a medical student at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. She is also working as a volunteer in the national HIV counselling and testing campaign, which aims to encourage 15 million people to be tested by June 2011. IRIN/PlusNews spoke to her at Natalspruit Hospital, east of Johannesburg, where the campaign was launched on 25 April 2010.
"I am a health care worker so it is important that I get tested regularly, because accidents do happen at work. HIV is an epidemic that I see every day in hospital.
"It is a good thing that we have this mass testing campaign, so that people know what their status is. I believe if you know what your status is, you can make better informed choices about your life.
"HIV is stigmatised and I think it is good that President Jacob Zuma announced his HIV status [he is negative], but I am not sure if it really does remove the stigma.
"I don't know if people will go out and test after hearing Zuma announce he is HIV negative - a lot of people do follow him and look up to him, but I don't know what it is going to mean to people that get tested and come out positive.
"Testing is good, but treating people is another issue. The worst thing that could come out of this is that people go for testing and walk out of hospital empty handed - some of our health facilities don't have medicines to treat people that test positive. If we can have proper ARV rollout in all healthcare facilities in South Africa then I am for this whole campaign.
"Changing people's attitudes is also important - it is no use for someone to get tested, find out they are positive, and they embark on a destructive way of life where they just sleep around."
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[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]