HIV scare for Kirsty

HARARE - Zimbabwean swimming icon Kirsty Coventry was still in shock yesterday after being a victim of theft on Saturday night, fearing she might have contracted HIV during the scuffle with the robbers.

The two-time Olympic champion and former world record holder had just jetted in Harare from Johannesburg when thieves smashed the back window of the vehicle ferrying her from the airport in an attempt to steal her luggage.

Coventry, 29, turned wrestler as she tried to rescue one of the suitcases that one of the thieves had got hold of.

In the midst of the tussle, the burglar and Coventry cut themselves on the shattered glass.

After her nerves had settled, Kirsty took post-exposure prophylaxis, an antiretroviral drug treatment, in case she had been exposed to HIV.

The drug is to allow a person’s immune system a chance to provide protection against the virus and to prevent HIV from becoming established in someone’s body.

A clearly distraught Kirsty yesterday took to her Facebook page to relate her ordeal.

“My sister and I were sitting behind my fiancé and her husband, who was driving,” she said.

“My sister grabbed my two year-old niece and five year-old nephew and I threw myself into the back of the vehicle to try hold onto our bags. Whilst wrestling with one of the men over our suitcases, I cut myself on the shattered glass. Unfortunately, so did one of the thieves. My fiancé and brother-in-law were able to jump out and chase after these guys managing to catch one of them. The others got away with one bag. It was late at night and very scary, but thankfully we are all okay."

“I'm now having to take antiretroviral medication. The ARVs may be unnecessary, but HIV is a serious problem in Africa and you can never be too careful. I understand how desperate these men must be to do this, but that does not make it right,” she said.

Despite the tragic incident, the swimming icon still had some words of advice for the ruthless thieves,

“So many people are struggling in their daily lives and instead of stealing from each other and creating terror for others, we should be working together to create jobs and helping each other.”

Cases of mugging has been on the rise in Zimbabwe, and the Airport road in Harare is a common hunting ground for the thieves, who have increasingly become daring and dangerous.

Comments (1)

The Airport road has always been a haven for thieves, unfortunately our police force cannot spare the time to patrol this road particularly after late flight landings.

Peter Macklyn - 2 May 2013

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