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October 29, 2008

Zambia’s Presidential Hopefuls Silent on HIV

Both of Zambia’s presidential candidates have been silent on the topic of HIV/AIDS, and that is causing the country’s citizens to speak up for a leader who will help fight the disease, Reuters reports.

Clementina Mumba, the HIV-positive chairwoman of AIDS pressure group Treatment Advocacy and Literacy, blames the silence on the country’s deep-rooted stigmas toward HIV/AIDS. “I am surprised not a single politician has declared he is HIV positive,” Mumba said. “Not even one minister or legislator has done that. This portrays a picture that HIV/AIDS only infects the poor.”

Out of 12 million of the country’s population, more than 1 million Zambians are living with HIV. According to U.N. data on the South African nation, 56,000 people there died of AIDS in 2007—down from 78,000 in 2001—but Zambia’s activist say the deaths are under-reported because their families are too ashamed to admit they had AIDS.

Search: Zambia, president, Clementina Mumba, Treatment Advocacy and Literacy, South Africa, United Nations

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