I am a victim of rape. After I was raped, they shot me and left me for dead. I lay in the hospital for three months in a coma. When I woke up, the doctor discovered I was pregnant and told me I had AIDS. My mom did not allow the doctor to do an abortion because it was late already. I was fourteen at the time.
I have experienced a lot of stigma, including from my own family—though not from my mom. When I was not at home they would say to my child, who tested HIV-negative when she was nine, “You and your mom, you’re going to die, because you have this disease.” Or “Don’t disclose, because you are destroying the name of the family.” Was I supposed to be quiet then? That’s why I decided to disclose my status.
I want to tell other people who are HIV-positive to live their lives openly. Don’t care about anybody else. Just live your positive life. You will become stronger, and stronger, and stronger again.
Telling my daughter about my HIV status, and about her past, was hard for me. I said, “There is something I need to tell you. I need you then to support me, and I will support you.” I told her everything. “Don’t feel ashamed,” I said. “Don’t be afraid. Be proud.”
At school one day, the teachers set the children an assignment, “Who is your hero?” When I was checking my daughter’s books, I saw that she had written about me. I said, “Why did you write that I’m a hero, not Nelson Mandela or Jacob Zuma?” She said, “No. They are not my heroes. My hero is you. Whatever difficulty I have in my life, you are always there for me.” That’s why I love her so much.
Sometimes I tell my daughter, “I will not die until you finish your school and your university.” In the meantime, I will stay strong. I’m not the dying type.