LUSAKA, May 27 - Sports, youth and child development minister Gladys Nyirongo has decided to go for voluntary counselling and testing to know her HIV status and make public the test results.
In an interview after she opened a four day HIV/AIDS sensitisation workshop for members of staff in her ministry at King George Youth College in Kabwe yesterday, Nyirongo said her decision was out of personal conviction.
"Our Cabinet chairman on HIV/AIDS [health minister] Dr. Brian Chituwo has gone for the test and declared his status. There is need to emulate Dr Chitwo's stance,"
Nyirongo said. "We should be committed to what we preach. I want to have things practiced if I must be part of the implementation process.
"I feel whether the results would come out positive or negative I would be at an advantage and I need Dr Rosemary Musonda of the National AIDS Council (NAC) to speed up the arrangements to facilitate the testing."
Nyirongo said she was ready to go for testing as long as authorities at the NAC were ready for her.
"Madam Musonda, I need to remind her that I am serious. Can I come? I think it is better to be an example," she said.
Nyirongo said the issue of stigma should not be the reason to shun HIV testing.
"As a nation we should handle stigma very well, the issue of stigma should not be there," she said.
Nyirongo said as ministers there was need for them to answer to calls that they should know their status.
"The call was made and should not be left to the citizens alone," she said.
But Nyriongo said although she was going for the test, she does not support mandatory HIV testing.
She encouraged her fellow ministers to go for HIV tests.
And opening the workshop, Nyirongo urged members of staff in her ministry to take up routine medical check ups.
Nyriongo said the message of behaviour change and abstinence should be highly recommended and seriously intensified.
She said 195 members of staff had already been sensitised on the dangers of HIV/AIDS in the four provincial workshops held so far and results were very impressive among the workers.
Nyirongo urged the participants drawn from within the Ministry of Sports, Youth and Child Development to freely discuss the ill effects of HIV/AIDS at various fora.
"By so doing we would keep the message of HIV/AIDS fresh in the minds of the workers and that would help to contribute effectively to the prevention of the spread of the pandemic in the nation," said Nyirongo.