Updated 28 April 2015

'My mother made me sleep with men for money and food'

Priscilla Mkhwanazi was always her mother’s favourite but being the apple of her mother’s eye came at a high price as she tells Cynthia Maseko.


Priscilla Mkhwanazi says that her mother made her sleep with men for food and money as of the age of 14. She is now HIV-positive and blames her mother. Mkhwanazi shares her story:

“Growing up in a poor family and being raised by single mother – it was a challenge.

“After the death of our father, we were struggling and sometimes we would eat one meal day. I had no choice but to take over his duties. At the age of 14, I remember my mother telling me that I was old enough to support the family.

“At first, I didn’t get what she was trying to say. I kept asking, ‘What do you mean, mom?’ That’s when she made it clear that I must start using my body to get food.

“She made it clear that I wasn’t allowed to be pregnant. Over the years, my pregnancies were terminated and my sexually transmitted infections were treated, but nothing made her happy. I always needed to earn more because my mother loved the good life I was providing for her and my siblings.”

At the age of 27, Mkhwanazi was diagnosed with HIV.

“I was her favourite daughter when my body was making money and putting food on the table, but because I am sick now I am not good enough.”

Mkhwanazi says she blames her mother for her HIV-positive status and says that if she had been a mother and not a boss, Mkhwanazi never would have contracted HIV.

“Now I have to pay for my bad choices alone. I'm suffering, but still she’s enjoying her life.

“I sometimes wonder where I would be today if my loving father was still alive. I deeply know he wouldn’t have let me go through this pain and suffering.

“I am done hoping and praying for my mother’s love because now I know being apart from her makes me strong and allows me to live a positive life.”

If you have a question relating to HIV, ask our HIV expert – questions can be posted anonymously.

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Dr Sindisiwe van Zyl qualified at the University of Pretoria in 2005. She is a patients' rights activist and loves using social media to teach about HIV. She is in private practice in Johannesburg.

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