So not only did President Robert Mugabe get the ringing endorsement of the region at the just ended Southern African Development Community (Sadc) Heads of State and Government summit in Malawi, he left a nugget for them to play around with.
President Mugabe suggests that the Sadc region should have compulsory HIV testing if the fight against the scourge has to be effective.
The problem is that when it comes to HIV/AIDS testing, issues of freedom and rights come into play and yet, we force people to go for testing and vaccinations for diseases such as polio.
Regional leaders felt the idea was not feasible though. President Ian Khama of Botswana preferred early interventions saying compulsory testing would result in resources being diverted away from actually dealing with development.
DRC called for ARVs to be produced in the Sadc region while Tanzania said that leaders should be at the forefront of being tested.
Now when you really give it a think, the main reason why compulsory testing would scare a few people on the ground is because of the stigma it comes with. The stigma exists because sex is still taboo. The fact that most infections come through intercourse it means that the virus comes with social stigma.
Perhaps if we became more open about sex and sexuality then we would have no issue with talking about the risks it comes with. You hear instances of women who are in the late 30s still trying to act like they are virgins only to find out later that they have had a kid or two. That is because society puts pressure on them to be chaste.
So when you really look at it, if testing is compulsory, people might become more open about sexuality. Someone’s condition cannot be used as a weapon by others against them because the real issue will not be the condition but whether one is aware of their status and what they are doing about it.
That said, you might want to have a look at this documentary House of Numbers and that will screw with your opinion of HIV. In short, the definition of HIV/AIDS and what causes it, is still in the air.