Koketso Moeti
Koketso Moeti

I am affected by HIV/Aids

For well over half a decade I have volunteered and worked at a number of non-profit organisations in both Gauteng and the North West. In my early days, I was based mostly with organisations in the healthcare sector and got a first-hand view of the devastation caused by HIV/Aids. Grieving parents and children were a part of my daily life and it is something forever engraved in my mind. Very often at testing centres, no one wants to be the first to go, so many times I volunteered to be the first, hoping to encourage others to do the same. I have had public HIV tests done and speak frequently about the need to know your status.

In spite of this, here I am, watching an episode of the series of Intersexions. Because of my neutrality, which is a result of my days as a counsellor, many in the communities I work in are comfortable with me. They tell me about their sex lives and I am constantly shocked by the attitudes these chats reveal. It is almost as if people have resigned to the fact that HIV infection is inevitable, so why bother. But it bothers me a lot. It bothers me because I know their children; their parents and because I would want to see them all in the future of the community. But as I have come to discover, HIV/Aids is much easier to deal with when it is happening to someone else and to people you don’t know.

You see, when it happens to others, it is easy to do an HIV/Aids education workshop, because you do not hear anyone talking about how it is too late for them. You hand out condoms and do not really get to hear the many reasons they aren’t used. In one’s personal space it is different; you get the full story and although this by no means justifies reckless behaviour, a part of you understands why.

On Saturday morning I was told of the passing of a young man, who I knew well. He was a young man of great potential, who was always keen to get involved and who always had a smile on his face. This young man died of an Aids-related illness. It greatly saddened me, but as always I moved on to the next thing that had to be done. I didn’t give it much thought till now. Then a realisation hit me: the community had lost an integral cog in the wheel of positive change. You see, this man played a huge role in a lot of the positive things that have happened here.

So here I am typing this post. My heart is heavy and tears freely roll down my cheeks. I am not only weeping for the young man who has lost his life. I am weeping for every young person recently lost in this community to this virus. I am weeping for the children they have left behind. I am weeping for the young girl who will not ask her boyfriend to use a condom, because she doesn’t want to lose him. I weep for the young man who will not use a condom to “prove his manliness”.

Running through my mind are thoughts of those who we will lose because they won’t get treatment, as going to the nearest clinic costs more than they can spare. Others we will lose because they won’t go to the clinic because we all know that antiretroviral collections happen on only Wednesdays and they don’t want us to know they’re going to the clinic for that. I am crying because, despite the many lives we have lost in this community due to this virus, we are yet to hear that someone has died from an Aids-related disease. We know, but we don’t say it. It is much easier to say so-and-so was sick, rather than tell it like it is, sharing the reality of this killer lurking among us. It is almost as if we do not want to know, which allows this killer to get an even firmer grip on us.

I may seem to be an ordinary young woman who goes about her days scribbling away occasionally, but I am much more than that. I am a young woman deeply affected by HIV/Aids, a young woman who is literally watching my peers die at a startling rate. With each passing day, my hope for an HIV/Aids-free generation dims a bit more, something that I hope to change with this admission of how I am affected.

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    • Rose

      Thank you for sharing your story. I have been battling with similar feelings and crying a lot because I feel a deep loss of strength each time I am told that a friend, relative, colleague is ‘sick’. I ask myself – how many of my friends have to be infected with HIV before the message gets out there. I feel like I have been robbed by this virus – it’s greed and shamelessness is overwhelming. We are losing so many people that our nation needs – academics, young people with loads of potential, future leaders… It is so tiring to always feel so much at loss because of losing those that matter.

    • http://IameffectedbyHIV/AIDS proactive

      Koketso, one can only applaud and congratulate you for that what you do to help others voluntarily!

      Your thoughts are well explained, not judgmental but mind boggling for everbody else ‘not able or willing’ to understand the root causes of such partly naive, reckless, and suicidal behavior, causing grieve to the families, the society and burdening the taxpayers with billions- besides setting records worldwide at the same time.

      Avoiding to drill deeper into this opaque cultural labyrinth- I can’t help not to be as idealistic or none judgmental, but draw and see parallels to the moral deficit in the dishonest, arrogant and reckless behavior of the present top political leadership- setting costly, unbecoming examples and national records with demoralizing effects!

      The prominent display of the many ‘moral slogans’- seen above and behind the heads of these politicians at leadership meetings- is a sad caricature of their none achieved goals!

      Therefore, in union with you, many of us are effected by all of this too!

    • ntozakhona

      Indeed we need to deal with some of the reasons people do noe want to fetch medication, the principle of doctor-patient confidentiality needs to be extended to those who are HIV positive, Disclure though correctly encouraged it shoul really be the choice of the patient, otherwise we are saying this is not a desease like aby other.

      Koketso you are directly involved in the care services regarding AIDS and have no reason to doubt your word. There are cases of lazy or incompetent doctors diaginising people as HIV positive simply because their immune system is compromises ( CD 4 count low) and these die of desease like cancer which can be beaten if dealt with early.

      We have come far as country in dealing with HIV. In the street where I live we once had four funerals on the same day due to AIDS. Stores had been turned into funeral undertakers as this was a more lucrative business. Today there is a positive atmosphere with weddings all over the township,

      I get sore when some of us yearn for the return of the FORCES OF CHANGE that presided over the deaths of so many of us. Families were wiped out, dearest friends wasting away before our own eyes just because some people are intellectuals. Gharge them with genocide, I say!

    • S’bu

      Wow what a touching article…

    • http://na welcome

      it was always easy for me to hear that so & so is infected, always thought its far from me. when i discovered two three four of my family members had it, thats when i understood what it means when they say we are not all infected but are affected all…its a very tough situation when you are directly affected…its a bad dream

    • Chris Martin

      Great article.

    • Chris Martin

      My daughter *adopted* a young girl who was dying of AIDS, took her on outings and tried to make her last days as pleasant as possible. It was tragic. She had no motivation to pay attention in class. It was in the time before medication became freely available. Her mother never visited her. And then one day she was no more.