2009 Heroes Campaign

19 October 2009

About the HEROES Campaign

The “Heroes campaign” is an AIDS Consortium initiative responding to this negative perception of classifying HIV and AIDS as an outcome of sexual excess and low moral character. This perception discourages disclosure and fuels stigma and discrimination.

This campaign aims to eradicate stigma and discrimination on the basis of one’s HIV status by encouraging discussion and disclosure. Through sharing their personal journeys, prominent people living openly with HIV are the chosen custodians of this campaign. Through a poster and a video clip, the ‘hero’ is profiled and shares his/her journey in dealing with the outcome of their disclosure. This is meant to open channels of communication and encourage discussions around stigma and discrimination. This campaign is a call to prominent people to ‘come out’ and normalise HIV.




For a dvd copy of the heroes campaign, please contact rhulani@aidsconsortium.org.za or call 011 403 0265

Click on the smaller poster for a larger view (opens in a separate window)

February 2009

Constitutional Court Judge
Living with HIV for more than 24 years and on treatment for 11 years

Described 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!

March 2009

Wellness Officer (Eskom)

Living with HIV for more than 19 years and on treatment for more than 6 years

“When 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.

April 2009

Tsabotsogo Consultancy

Living with HIV for more than
18 years
and not yet on treatment

Born 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.

May 2009

Hope and Unity Metropolitan Community Church (Pastor)
“Living with HIV for more than 12 years & on treatment for more than 10 years”

Also 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”

As a church leader, Paul is troubled by the way in which many of his congregation members are “dying in silence” because of self stigma.

June 2009

“Living with HIV for more than 8 years and on treatment for more than 4 years”

When 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.

“Helping 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!

July 2009

Consultant and motivational speaker
“Living with HIV for more than 15 years and on treatment for more than 5 years”

Having 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 says.

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.

Anne is passionate about making a difference in people’s lives.


August 2009

Health Promoter & Co-founder of Positive Muslims
Living with HIV for more than 15 years and has recently started treatment

Faghmeda Miller,
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.


September 2009

Traditional Healer
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.