Former SA Deputy President Zuma Acquitted of Raping HIV-Positive Woman
A South African judge on Monday acquitted former South African Deputy President Jacob Zuma for raping an openly HIV-positive woman but admonished him for having unprotected sex with the woman, the Washington Post reports (Timberg, Washington Post, 5/9). Zuma, a former chair of South Africa's AIDS Council, was tried in the Johannesburg High Court for allegedly raping the 31-year-old woman. He told the court he had unprotected sex with the woman, believing his risk of contracting HIV was "minimal." His remarks angered HIV/AIDS advocates who said Zuma's testimony undermines HIV-prevention campaigns by incorrectly impressing upon people that men are not at risk for contracting HIV by having unprotected sex with HIV-positive women. Zuma also said he took a shower after having sex with the woman, believing it would further minimize his risk of contracting HIV (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 4/6). After Zuma's testimony, advocates say their hotlines were flooded with calls from men wanting to know whether soap and water could prevent HIV transmission (Wines, New York Times, 5/9). "It is totally unacceptable that a man should have unprotected sex with a person other than his regular partner and definitely not with a person who to his knowledge is HIV-positive," Judge Willem van der Merwe of the Johannesburg High Court said in the verdict, which was broadcast live in South Africa. "I do not even want to comment on the effect of the shower after having had unprotected sex," he added (Leonard, AP/Philadelphia Inquirer, 5/8). Zuma on Tuesday apologized for having unprotected sex with the woman, saying, "[I]t was a mistake." He added, "The war against AIDS, I will stand for it, and I will continue to preach, even using myself as an example. We need to fight HIV and AIDS because it is a dangerous thing" (Reuters, 5/9).This is part of the Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.