Swazi residents were asked Tuesday to debate a politician's call for HIV-positive citizens to be branded on the buttocks, which has sparked an uproar in the small mountain kingdom.
The Times of Swaziland asked for feedback on best ways to combat HIV, and rights to freedom of speech after Timothy Myeni told fellow politicians that all Swazis should be tested for HIV and their backsides marked if infected.
"I have a solution to this virus. 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," the member of parliament said last week.
Check buttock before sex
"Before having sex with anyone, people will then check the buttocks of their partners before proceeding with their mission," the newspaper reported him saying.
Landlocked Swaziland is one of the world's poorest nations with the highest HIV prevalence in the world under the rule of Africa's last absolute monarch King Mswati III.
Miyeni, who leads a popular gospel group, has stuck to his call for compulsory HIV testing, but apologised for the buttocks-branding suggestion.
"I am very sorry for saying HIV-positive people should be branded, I did not know it would turn out like this. I have seen that the suggestion was very offensive and many think I was discriminating, so I withdraw my statement," he said last week.
Reader responses will be published in the Times of Swaziland next Tuesday, the newspaper said in its online edition. - (Sapa-AFP/May 2009)