My Name Is Malehlohonolo Phakisi. I Am a 22-Year-old woman living with HIV in Maseru, Lesotho. When my HIV status was disclosed to my classmates, I was stigmatized and discriminated against. This made me lonely.
In 2017, I went to the Scott Adolescent Center and joined a peer support group for young people living with HIV. I also became a member of the DREAMS initiative. where I found that I was not alone. I learned to accept myself and my status. With the encouragement of the group, I take my HIV treatment daily without ever missing a dose.
Being a DREAMS member has been a good journey for me, since DREAMS delivers a core package of services that are relevant to me. Through this initiative I have learned that I can be AIDS-free, despite my HIV status, and that it is possible for us to achieve the goal of an AIDS-free generation of girls and young women in Lesotho. I also learned about reproductive health and family planning and about overcoming stigma and discrimination.
My goal is to become a nurse. I am an advocate for young people to help end stigma, encourage my peers to know their HIV status, and encourage those who are positive to adhere to their treatment while informing those who are negative about preventative measures.
Thanks to the DREAMS initiative and my peer support group, today I am a strong young woman and able to educate my peers and advocate for them.