I was born and raised in Lindelani, a village in KwaZulu-Natal, by my grandma and my granddad. Due to the absence of my parents, I grew up in a dysfunctional family. I knew I wanted to finish school, but as a girl, I didn’t have that support.

As a kid, I was quite beautiful. I was big-boned, which resulted in me attracting older guys. As a result of attracting all the wrong guys, I fell pregnant at the age of sixteen. I lost that baby and, at the same time, discovered I was HIV-positive. So the pain was double.

My first boyfriend did everything for me. He played a fatherly role. He was my “blesser,” my sugar daddy. I wanted to hate the guy for infecting me with HIV, but, at the end of the day, he also gave me life because, with his financial support, I managed to finish school.

He did all the good things for me; I had the good life.

As much as I wanted to hate him, I couldn’t. Instead, I started resenting my parents because I thought if they were there for me, I wouldn’t have been in this situation. I wouldn’t have had the need for a blesser.

After finishing school, I had so many emotions I was uncontrollable. I just wanted to live my life so fast, to get it over and done with because I knew that, at the end of the road, HIV was going to kill me. I was scared. And I felt like trash.

I had to stop and think and really find out, Why am I alive? What do I want out of my life? And what I found was that I still had hope and that I wanted to live. I wanted to have everything my parents couldn’t give me. I wanted a family. I wanted to be bigger than HIV.

I started my ARVs, not because I was sick but because I wanted to have a child. He’s a healthy boy, seven years old now. And I had two more after that. So I have three beautiful children. I call them my Nevirapines, because I had to take the drug Nevirapine in order for them to be HIV-negative.

Imagine, now, I have a husband and three kids. They’re all negative. I’m the only one who’s positive. They give me all the support that I need.

A final piece of advice to all the parents out there: Treasure your daughters. Give them all the love you can.