Mr Zuma, who has three wives, has before said publicly that he was taking an HIV test, but until now, has never revealed the result. “After careful consideration, I have decided to share my test results with South Africans,” he said. “The purpose is to promote openness and to eradicate the silence and stigma that accompanies this epidemic,” he said. Speaking at a hospital near Johannesburg, he said: "We have to work harder together to fight the perceptions and the stigma. We have to make all South Africans understand that people living with HIV have not committed any crimes." But he did say that revealing his status was not aimed at putting pressure on anyone to do the same. “Anyone’s HIVstatus is private and confidential. Disclosure is an individual decision. We must respect the decisions of those who choose to keep their status confidential, whether positive or negative,” Mr Zuma said.
The president’s private life has been the subject of scrutiny and criticism in the past. In a 2006 rape trial, of which he was acquitted, Mr Zuma told the court he had unprotected sex with his HIV-positive accuser, but said he showered afterwards to ward off the risk of HIV, rather than wear a condom. Mr Zuma, who was made president last April, last month survived a vote of no-confidence called by opposition parties after it emerged he had fathered a child with Sonono Khoza, 39, the daughter of local World Cup boss Irvin Khoza. Even so, according to a BBC correspondent, South Africans have largely supported his public stance on Aids.
The campaign, he is now pushing aims to test 15 million people in the next year, and provide 80 per cent of South Africans needing them with anti-AIDS drugs. More than five million people out of South Africa’s population of 48 million are HIV positive, according to figures from thee United Nations. It is believed that in 2008, over 250,000 South Africans died of AIDS, according to the international Aids charity, Avert. It said National prevalence is around 11%, with some age groups being particularly affected. Almost one-in-three women aged 25-29, and over a quarter of men aged 30-34, are living with HIV.