Swaziland’s King Mswati III

Timothy Myeni, a member of Swaziland’s parliament, has apologised after his remarks about branding HIV positive people caused a furore amongst HIV/AIDS groups.

“I have a solution to this virus,” Myeni recently said at a workshop for MPs. “The solution will come from a law that will make it compulsory to test for HIV. Once you test positive, you should be branded on the buttocks.”

“Before having sex with anyone, people will check the buttocks of their partners before proceeding,” the Times of Swaziland reported him saying.

Myeni, who also leads a popular gospel group, has stuck to his call for compulsory HIV testing but apologised for the buttocks branding suggestion.

“I’m very sorry. If you need me to show a sign of how sorry I am, I’m ready,” SAPA quoted Myeni. “I’m here to withdraw those things I asked that are really bad, which I now realise,” he said.

“How can a legislator lobby for the branding of HIV positive people?” asked Swazi AIDS activist Siphiwe Hlophe. “We do not need legislators who think like him because some of the people who voted for him could be positive, why is he then discriminating them?”

With an estimated 43% of the population reportedly infected with HIV, landlocked Swaziland is one of the world’s poorest nations with the highest HIV prevalence in the world. It is ruled by Africa’s last absolute monarch King Mswati III.

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