An Open Letter To People Living With HIV from Mpho
The journey is not easy…..but possible only if taking responsibility
I hope you are well and taking care of yourself and those around you. I have been living with HIV for the past 11 years and two years back I started taking Antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) because my health started to deteriorate. Today there are almost six million people living with HIV in South Africa. When I found out that I have HIV, I refused to believe that I acquired this virus just to die from it. I did not view it as a barrier but as a catalyst propelling me towards my destiny and I will continue with the positive spirit until my Living God decide.
When I learnt my status I promised myself that I will find as many people living with HIV as I can. I did this because I did not want to and still do not want to be alone in this fight against HIV. I need to see and learn from other fellow people who are living with HIV and I am still searching for others that is why I made it my business to educate and empower others.
Years of living with HIV has helped me to develop a thick skin and an understanding that everybody is entitled to their opinions, I cannot control what people think or say about me but I can choose how to respond to it. My response will either validate or disqualify their perception and opinion about me as an individual and continue to educate because I am a human rights activist and did never saw myself as a candidate for HIV.
Sadly enough, the virus does not only grow or multiply in my body, it continues to infect many people and truly this world needs reinforcement, you are the reinforcement needed to change the face of this virus.
I am bothered that despite this country having so many millions of people living with HIV or AIDS many of us remain silent, some people suspect that they might be HIV positive but do not do anything about it until its too late, our country has the biggest ARV Program in the world but many of us die senselessly everyday every hour.
Let me try to explain it in this way: every year more than 300.000 people get infected and all of these people will get HIV from someone who is already infected, this is not blaming anyone but remember that a person can never get HIV from one who does not have it.
HIV is increasing the burden on our families, our economy and the state; it will continue to be a burden only if we are still having silent shame.
Right now people are making decisions and speaking on our behalf, they claim to know what we want and how we feel and they will continue to speak on our behalf as long as we are silent. Yes their help is of important but we know a lot more about living with HIV than any expect because we have personal experience. Let us go out there and do something positive about HIV, Prevent stigma and discrimination and most importantly help “stop” new infections.
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