JUSTICE EDWIN CAMERON
Constitutional Court Judge
“Living with HIV for more than 24 years and on treatment
for 11 years”
by Madiba as ‘one of South Africa’s new heroes’,
Justice Edwin Cameron is the only person in a prominent
position in public office living openly with HIV. Edwin
(as known by The AIDS Consoritum), is not shy to share his
journey with HIV – his book titled “Witness
to AIDS” is testimony to this. His passions about
HIV: “it’s about treatment, stigma and prevention”
as he so puts it himself!
Wellness Officer (Eskom)
“Living with HIV for more than 19 years and on treatment
for more than 6 years”
I first found out about my status, I could never anticipate
what was waiting for me. I expected hardships and consequences,
but I never could envisage what was waiting for me –
people changed, I lost everything, left standing on the pavement
with my baby and my wife after the bank had taken our house
away”. This is a glimpse of Martin Vosloo’s journey
with HIV. As a wellness officer at Eskom, Martin is tackling
HIV head on without fear of what people might say.
“Living with HIV for more than
18 years and
not yet on treatment”
and bred in Soweto, she was amongst the first African women
to publicly declare her HIV status. Diagnosed in 1993, Masi
Makhalemele (popularly known as Mercy) verbally “killed
her mother” when she discovered her status – “I
was in a taxi in Soweto, I couldn’t have dared uttered
that I had just been told I was HIV positive”. This
is just an example of how rife stigma was back then.
REV. PAUL MOKGETHI-HEATH
Hope and Unity Metropolitan Community Church (Pastor)
“Living with HIV for more than 12 years & on treatment
for more than 10 years”
born and bred in Soweto, Reverend Paul Mokgethi-Heath breaks
boundaries and tackles HIV issues head on. “One question
I am always asked is, how did you get it? People are always
interested to know, and my response is: It doesn’t
matter how people got it, and it doesn’t matter how
I got it, what you should be asking me is: How can I help
you to live positively with your virus?” This is the
kind of support that people need, that I need”
a church leader, Paul is troubled by the way in which
many of his congregation members are “dying in silence”
because of self stigma.
“Living with HIV for more than 8 years and on treatment
for more than 4 years”
she revealed her HIV status on the popular talent show Idols
in September 2007, she had already been living with HIV for
more than six years. Her courage and commitment to making
a contribution in the fight against HIV and AIDS is what pushed
this determined young Diva to use this platform to raise HIV
awareness in millions of audiences.
myself and other people understand what HIV is and how it
can be managed is a big part of my journey and talking about
it has helped me better understand my HIV” she says.
Tender sees her role in community as being that of challenging
young people to step up and take control of their lives!
“Living with HIV for more than 15 years and on treatment
for more than 5 years”
lived with HIV for more than 15 years and being diagnosed
with cancer twice since then, Anne’s passion is to encourage
people in her community to see HIV as any other chronic illness!
‘Knowing your status is the place to start!’ she
Having lost both her parents to cancer, she anticipated that
one day she would have to fight the same battle, but little
did she know that her chronic illness list would have to include
HIV. Anne Leon has been married to an HIV negative partner
for 11 years and has been on Antiretroviral treatment for
more than 5 years.
is passionate about making a difference in people’s
Health Promoter & Co-founder of Positive Muslims
“Living with HIV for more than 15 years and has recently started treatment”
co-founder of Positive Muslims (a non-profit organisation initially dedicated to helping HIV-positive Muslims, but has grown to accommodate people of other faiths) was the first South African Muslim to disclose her HIV positive status. Despite criticism from her religious leaders, relatives and community, Faghmedawas not afraid to stand up for what she believed in and challenge, with the intention of changing the mindsets of those who believed that “Muslims don’t get HIV” and that “HIV is a curse from God” as she puts it.
“It’s not HIV that’s killing us, but the stigma attached to it” says Faghmeda as she remembers that in 1996, when she disclosed her status, there was minimal support compared to today.
“Living with HIV for more than
4 years and on treatment
for more than 2 years”
Mettah was convinced that she was bewitched before she tested for HIV. “when I started taking my medicine (ARVs) and got better, I knew that I wasn’t bewitched” she says. Mettah strongly recommends ARVs for those who need them and warns of the dangers of mixing traditional medicine with ARVs.
Like most South Africans who are HIV positive, Mettah has also had to deal with stigma and discrimination; after disclosing her status, some of her friends told her that people will no longer go to her for consultation (an indication/example of how stigma filters through in communities), but according to her belief in delivering quality service and her 11 years of experience in the field, Mettah continues to practice as a traditional healer in her village.
She also runs a support group in partnership with the local clinic and surrounding NGOs.