A young woman says HIV will not claim her life.
Zitha said before she accepted her HIV status she battled with denial and
anger. The 24-year-old told Health-e News that she could not cope because three
of her siblings, who had been HIV-positive, had died. She struggled to accept
her HIV status and could not see a future for herself.
“Even though I had engaged in unprotected sex the news of my
diagnosis shocked me,” said Zitha. “I went into panic mode because I thought if
my siblings could not survive to tell their story, how would I? I thought of committing
suicide because I knew that, emotionally, I was not ready to deal with the huge
responsibility that comes with being HIV-positive.”
Zitha said because she lost weight, people started gossiping about
her and some people told her she would not see her son grow up. “But what made
me the most angry was that among those people who told me I would die were my
so called best friends. That’s when I realised why people with HIV die in denial.”
'Perfectly beautiful and strong'
According to lay counselor Bheki Khumalo, many people who test
positive for HIV experience denial. “At this point many people will tell
themselves that it’s not true even though a confirming test has been done. Some
will even ask you to do another test because there might have been a mistake.
If the result is the same they will do the test at a different facility because
they are still hoping for different results.”
Khumalo said stigma and discrimination against people living with
HIV is the reason why many people with HIV find it difficult to accept their status. “This anger and hurt can lead to people taking risks like using substances
and having unprotected sex,” she said.
Zitha said her sister helped her come to terms with her status.
“She told me I was perfectly beautiful and strong. Those words helped me to
regain my strength and purpose of living. I began seeing my status as a second
chance to change my lifestyle and behaviour.
I read more books about HIV and
socialised with people who had already accepted their HIV status. I realised I
didn’t have to submit to people’s ignorance and cruelty. I have been on
treatment for three months now and I have accepted my status. No one has to die.”
– Health-e News.
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