A HEALTH lobby group has challenged political leaders to lead the fight against stigmatising people living with HIV/AIDS rather than perpetuate the problem.
In a statement, the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) condemned remarks made by Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Development Terrence Mukupe on a local radio station during a debate.
“For the purposes of denigrating and casting the listenership of Star FM against the person of Mr. Tendai Biti, Deputy Minister Mukupe asked Mr. Biti if he had taken his Anti-retroviral (ARVs),” the doctors lobby group said.
“ZADHR reiterates that political leaders must be torch bearers in the fight against HIV/AIDS and associated stigma and discrimination.
“Hon. Mukupe’s utterances casts aspersions in this fight.”
Mukupe’s comments, the lobby group said, could be a microcosm of government’s attitude towards HIV/AIDS.
“With such utterances from a deputy Minister of the Ministry of Finance it piques people’s minds on how the health sector is generally underfunded.
“We believe the lack of appreciation of issues such as the impact of HIV/AIDS on the socio-political landscape of the country generally drive the poor financing of the sector. Hon. Mukupe in this instance personifies such failures,” the group said.
ZADHR added: “Stigma and discrimination remains a threat to the fight against HIV/AIDS and as ZADHR we call upon all leaders, political, religious and community alike to take a stand against this vice.”
Mukupe in a heated argument with former Finance minister Biti asked if the People’s Democratic Party leader had taken “his ARVs”.
He was responding to Biti’s claims that the deputy treasury chief was “drunk or on drugs”.