Mswati not helping cause

MBABANE - One year ago 25-year-old Zanele Mamba was living on the edge in Swaziland. She and her husband, Mfanzile Dlamini, were HIV positive and had lost two babies to Aids.

They lived in a one-roomed hut in Mkhulamini, surviving on subsistence farming and Dlamini's meagre salary as a night watchman.

Dlamini's family harassed the couple about their HIV status.

The couple lived for their 14-month-old daughter, Phiwa, who was HIV negative, thanks to the prevention services Mamba received at a local clinic.

In June Dlamini died. "They took everything I had. They took the chickens. They took my clothes." Mamba now lives with her mother, Alice Mamba, in rural Lubombo.

Some of Alice neighbours have also disclosed their status, suggesting that efforts by non-government organisations to educate Swazis are working.

Phumzile, who asked that her surname not be used, was stabbed by her husband after they both tested HIV positive.

Phumzile left to live with her parents and now works at a government hospital, counselling other women who are positive.

Some experts blame a lack of leadership.

King Mswati has 13 wives. In 2001, he banned girls under 18 from having sex in an effort to curb the virus. Soon after he married a 17-year-old girl.

Alice feels that people with HIV should not hide their status.

"It's very important for everybody to know that if you have HIV you are still a human being."

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