Page last updated at 14:21 GMT, Sunday, 25 April 2010 15:21 UK

South Africa's Zuma reveals he is HIV-negative

Jacob Zuma on the "stigma" surrounding HIV tests

South Africa's President Jacob Zuma has revealed that he is HIV-negative.

Launching a government programme of counselling and testing, he said he had decided to reveal his status so as to promote openness about Aids.

Mr Zuma has been open in the past about being tested for HIV, but has never before revealed the results.

Mr Zuma, who has three wives, was criticised for promiscuity after it was revealed he had sired a child out of wedlock.

"After careful consideration, I have decided to share my test results with the South Africans," said Mr Zuma, 68.

"My April results, like the three previous ones, registered a negative outcome for the HIV virus."

Shower after sex

By publicising the results of his test, Mr Zuma said, he hoped to "promote openness, and to eradicate the silence and stigma that accompanies this epidemic.

We have to make all South Africans understand that people living with HIV have not committed any crimes
Jacob Zuma

"We have to work harder together to fight the perceptions and the stigma," he told a crowd at a hospital near Johannesburg.

"We have to make all South Africans understand that people living with HIV have not committed any crimes."

Mr Zuma's sex life has been the focus of intense scrutiny in South Africa, says BBC Africa correspondent Andrew Harding.

In a 2006 rape trial, he conceded having had unprotected sex with his HIV-positive accuser, but said he showered afterwards thinking this would reduce his risk of being infected.

Mr Zuma, who was inaugurated as president last April, was acquitted of the charges.

But while his private life has been widely criticised, his public stance on Aids has been broadly welcomed, adds our correspondent.

The campaign he is now backing hopes to get 15 million people tested during the next year, and provide drugs to 80% of those needing them.

At least five million South Africans are HIV-positive - more than than in any other country.

Last month Mr Zuma 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.

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The Independent Zuma breaks taboo in launching S.African HIV tests - 24 hrs ago
Business Day Zuma AIDS disclosure a positive step, says DA - 28 hrs ago
Telegraph Jacob Zuma breaks taboo disclosing HIV test results - 39 hrs ago
China Post Zuma announces he is HIV negaitive during AIDS campaign - 42 hrs ago
ABC Online Zuma launches HIV testing in South Africa - 45 hrs ago

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