Johanna Ncala

My name is Johanna Ncala born in Katlehong in Gauteng, I am a mother of two: one in university and toddler of three. My boyfriend stays in Mozambique but intend to move together soon. I have sister who also is living with HIV and parents who are my pillar and strength.

Because I was working in the laboratory as medical technologist I tested my self in 1993 when I could really see that I have signs and symptoms of person with HIV. The test came back positive and I kept it a secret until I got sick in 1999 with TB of the Lymph nodes which doctors struggled diagnose until my mom insisted that the remove the swollen lymph in my armpits that was when they discovered the TB and I was given TB treatment. I had a CD4 count of 16.

I finished my TB treatment and after 6 months the TB came back again and I had to restart treatment for another nine months was then advised by my doctor to start ARVs. At that time everyone was scared to take ARV as they known to be ‘dangerous’ and ‘toxic’. I stalled the process for 6 months and boxes of medication piled in my bedroom even though my health deteriorating everyday. Eventually I felt that only option left for me is to start ARV as people living with HIV, like Zackie Achmat, were advocating for the medication. So started on my treatment and my health improved drastically.

I really wanted to work in Saudia Arabia and was offered a job there but was later refused entry because I had HIV.

Life is about the challenges that make you a better person. Don’t lose hope rather strive to conquer all your obstacles: never give up even how hard the situation might be.