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Swazi Ambassador to USA Notes Progress, Stresses Abstinence in Fight Against HIV/AIDS
Contact: Christian Nkambule, Embassy of the Kingdom of Swaziland, 202-234-5002

WASHINGTON, Dec. 5 /Christian Newswire/ -- In a statement issued on December 4, Swaziland’s Ambassador to the United States noted that “the epidemic of HIV/AIDS is one of the most serious issues we have faced in the history of the Kingdom of Swaziland. The disease affects nearly every family in the country and has profound ramifications for economic growth, political stability, and social cohesion.”

The statement, released in conjunction with a seminar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars on the topic “How Swaziland’s Governance Model and AIDS Crisis Intersect,” went on to say:

“His Majesty King Mswati III has recognized the depth of the problem and is looking to other African countries, such as Uganda, for models of combating HIV/AIDS. The notion of ‘abstain, be faithful, and use condoms’ makes eminent sense and we are applying it as a policy with consistency.”

In his comments, Ambassador Ephraim M. Hlophe noted both positive developments and the challenges his country faces in addressing issues related to AIDS:

“In the past few years, we have seen some significant improvement in terms of people who are willing to be tested for the virus so that they benefit from these drugs that are made available through the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. But as a small kingdom, an aggressive approach that encompasses all the methods of prevention and treatment will be crucial to His Majesty King Mswati III’s efforts to combat the epidemic.”

On the specific question of governance, Ambassador Hlophe highlighted “the positive advancements our country has made. A new constitution took effect earlier this year, the result of consultation with all of the various interest groups in the Kingdom. In fact, the input of every Swazi citizen was sought during the extensive process that led to the drafting of the new Constitution, which greatly expands democratic institutions and establishes a sturdy system of checks and balances. Despite criticisms that come to light from distant observers, the Constitution is not the king’s instrument. It is our instrument; it is every Swazi’s instrument.”

Ambassador Hlophe concluded his remarks by citing an announcement by the Swazi Prime Minister on World AIDS Day, that there has been a decline of the HIV prevalence in Swaziland from 42.6% in 2004 to 39.2% this year.