9 January 2013

South Africa: Living Positively With HIV

Nontlahla Boyizi, a 20-year-old woman from Ngobozana Village in the Eastern Cape, was shocked when she recently received the news that she was HIV positive.

Stunned and confused she went home to get the support of her family, but instead was shunned when she told them about her HIV status. Her parents and siblings threw her out because she was HIV positive.

"Living with HIV is not a crime or a shame and it is certainly not the end of the world. It is just the beginning of new life - living positively," said Nonzaliseko Ntwana, a Treatment Action Campaign veteran and community mobiliser.

But unfortunately, just like Nontlahla, many people with HIV are still treated differently and experience discrimination – even from their loved ones.

"I came across this confused, crying girl and listened to her story," said Nonzaliseko. Nontlahla had nowhere to go so Nonzaliseko took her in and taught her how to "live positively". "The crying and sadness are things of the past now and she knows and understands what is happening to her," said Nonzaliseko.

Nontlahla's physical condition improved drastically since she started on ARVs and she now also has a positive outlook on life because of the help she received from Nonzaliseko.

"I am very thankful for everything that they have done for me," said Nontlahla. "Even though they don't know me, they understood my situation and helped me."

Mtshana Mvlisi is an OurHealth Citizen Journalist reporting from Lusikisiki in the OR Tambo health district in the Eastern Cape.

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