Personal Story – Living with HIV, 2006
Last year on World Aids Day I spoke with Rose about her experience of living with HIV . Rose has chosen to leave a comment revealing her true self and revealing the name of the person from who she contracted HIV, something she has only ever done to one person. She explains why she has chosen to do this at this time and what it means to her to make these revelations.
This year, whilst in Johannesburg, I spoke with Mpho, a young woman who is also HIV positive. Unlike Rose who has been positive for 20 years, Mpho only found out in April this year after she was raped last October. For her the journey is twofold. Coming to terms with being raped and having to see her rapist walk the streets in freedom; and beginning her journey of an HIV positive life.
There are some similarities between the two women. Rose was 23 when she found out she had HIV and Mpho is just 24 and both are lesbian identified women. Another similiarity is the continued stigma attached to HIV throughout the world including the West and the continued lack of education and information. At the time Rose was diagnosed, HIV was a death sentence because there were no drugs at all. Today it continues to be a death sentence in many places because of poverty and lack of access to the drugs that do now exist. For example in South Africa access to ARVs is only available for those whose CD4 count is below 200 whilst in the West where Rose lives, access is NOW available almost irrespective of your CD4 count.
Mpho has started to blog her poems, stories and hopefully in the future her photos as well. Her blog is called My Realities.