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South African Press Association
Khoza death proves Aids does not discriminate
Chriselda Lewis
February 24, 2006
Just a few days ago, one of South Africa's most prominent soccer bosses, Irvin Khoza, chairperson of Orlando Pirates, buried his 30-year-old daughter Zodwa after losing her to HIV/Aids.

The "Iron Lady" was believed to have been infected by her husband and former Jomo Cosmos star Sizwe Motaung, who died in 2001, at 31.

The defender was part of the Bafana Bafana squad which won the African Cup of Nations in 1996.

Even former president Nelson Mandela, who has championed the fight against HIV/Aids, was not spared his son.

Makgatho Mandela (54) died of Aids in a Johannesburg hospital last year.

The children of Inkatha Freedom Party leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi -- 53-year-old Nelisuzulu and Mandisi Sibukakonke (48) -- died from HIV/Aids in 2004.

The Khozas, Mandelas and Buthelezis are part of the South African elite. They have finances and access to information and resources.

That they have been affected proves that HIV/Aids does not discriminate.

Experts are trying to educate the public that engaging in unprotected sex is dangerous, like sharing needles, or taking part in any other activity in which bodily fluids are exchanged.

According to UNAids, HIV/Aids affects more than one in five adults in South Africa, where 5,3-million people live with the virus.

"Is the message of HIV/Aids correctly getting through to the poor, particularly those in the rural areas?" asks UNAids regional support team director Mark Sterling.

Rural communities were still not getting enough information, he said, criticising affected families, including the Khozas, for speaking out about their relatives' illness only after they had died.

"People only speak out after. They like to act late. Then, what good is that going to do?"

Stigmatisation is still a major problem, he said. Eugenia Keebine of the National Association of People Living with HIV/Aids has known of her HIV positive status for nine years.

"People still refuse to do things like use the phone after an HIV positive person has. This, even though they have access to information and are clear that the disease is not contracted that way," Keebine said.

There were still people who did not understand what HIV was. Sending out the right message played a critical role in education, she said.

"Poor people need to be involved in ensuring that messages on HIV/Aids that are placed on billboards are clear. There is no point in placing a big billboard yet nobody can understand what message is being portrayed."

She encouraged married couples to continue using condoms. "But in our culture, how do you tell your husband that you should use a condom within your marriage? He would immediately accuse you of infidelity."

Buthelezi has publicly voiced his support for the compulsory HIV/Aids testing of couples wanting to marry.

Although some gains have been made on HIV/Aids awareness, a lot of work is still needed, said loveLife chief executive officer David Harrison.

"We are still not making progress in the explosion of HIV in women between ages 18 and 20. The real problem is that younger women are having sex with much older men, putting themselves at risk for physical and sometimes financial security," Harrison said.

He too has encouraged married couples to use condoms.

Meanwhile, an official from the the Department of Health emphasised that it does not matter even if one had the best resources.

"If one does not practice a healthy lifestyle at the end of the day it will catch up with you. We say even in marriages there has to be a sense of faithfulness. If there is no trust in a marriage use a condom," the official said.