My name is Mziwethu Faku – my birth pace is Catheart (EC) – I have an 8 year old daughter who does not have HIV – she is doing grade 3 in Catheart RC School (Coloured School) – I’m Xhosa speaking person.
I enjoy food, reading and interacting with other people – more I like my work.
I am the District Chairperson of TAC in Chris Hani District (Queenstown) – I started in the TAC in 2003 as a volunteer. In 2004 I joined the Treatment Literacy Programme as a TAC trainer. From 2005 to date I am employed as a District Organiser, which have now been changed to Chairpersons.
I learnt about my HIV status in 2001 when I went for an HIV test. When I found out that I had this virus, it was not easy : it was very difficult – I had anger, fear, wanted to commit suicide however I recommend the counselor who counseled me then. She simply told me that it is not me alone and this is not the end of the world. These words really kept me going until today. The first thing that I did was to tell my big brother who was supportive of me and afterwards I told my family. It took me two years to tell my family because I had to deal with myself first.
In May 2004 I started ARVs because my CD4 count was 17 and my viral load was more than 30,000 – today my CD4 count is raised and my viral load undetectable. I’m well, just sick like any other person sometimes consulting the doctor when it is necessary.
Honestly I don’t have any difficulty in my communities mainly because I’m living with HIV and disclosed my status and talk about it.
My positive message will be: HIV & AIDS has been a great teacher and taught me many things. The most important lesson that I have learnt is that there is hope and love that HIV is not the end but the beginning of life. HIV & AIDS are strongly associated death and dying. But I have also found that it can be a new beginning…. There is love, life, laughter and hope after diagnosis. One can fall in love, make new friends and explore new things.
All South Africans need to go for a VCT test as early as they can.