NO LIMITATIONS FOR STANDARD BANK’S POSITIVE HERO – NOMSA MPEHLE
None of us need be alone if we test HIV-positive. Millions of people throughout the world are living positively with HIV/AIDS and Nomsa Mpehle, a Standard Bank employee and company Wellness Champion is one of these inspiring individuals.
Nomsa grew up in Soweto, she comes from a family of six girls and two boys and has a beautiful 5yr old daughter called Nomonde. HIV/AIDS became a very real part of her life when her younger brother, Patrick Mncedisi Mpehle was diagnosed with the disease in 2005. He shared his status with her and she supported him and counseled him right until the very end.
Nomsa later discovered that she herself was HIV positive.
After receiving counseling regarding her HIV status and commencing with specialised HIV treatment, Nomsa decided to go public with her status via Standard Bank’s internal TV Channel – BlueWave. On the morning of her interview, she became increasingly nervous and even called to cancel but later remembered her reasons for wanting to disclose.
“I was worried that I would be stigmatised by my colleagues once they knew my status but the mere fact that my story might prompt others to get tested and teach them how important it is for them to know their status, overrode my fear. Knowing your status early, taking the right medication and following a balanced diet is so important,” says Nomsa. “That’s when I realised I had to go ahead with the interview, and I am so glad that I did.”
Nomsa’s colleagues were all incredibly supportive and she even went on to assist a client of Standard Bank who disclosed their status. “I went and visited her and reminded her that HIV was not a death sentence and encouraged her to be positive and keep on living. A few months later she came to the bank and thanked me for my advice. She was glowing and had clearly changed her attitude towards her status.”
HIV infection does, though, present important life challenges. Any of us who test HIV-positive should think about contacting a local AIDS service organisation. By sharing our experiences with other people living with the disease, we can reduce our anxieties, learn new strategies for coping with HIV infection, and build friendships with people who are facing similar challenges.
As a result of medical advances, those of us who are infected with HIV are now able to live with the disease, healthily and productively. In addition, an extraordinary amount of research is under way to identify even better treatments to build on those that already exist. HIV/AIDS is a major medical condition that must be taken seriously, but it is not necessarily a death sentence.
Nomsa went on to become a member of the Standard Bank Wellness Champions, a group of award-winning peer educators within Standard Bank. These volunteer peer educators are shaping the company’s HIV/Aids programme in the workplace and changing their own lives in the process.
Wellness Champions are required to conduct at least five workshops for all staff which serve to educate staff on the bank’s stance on HIV/AIDS, the measures that have been put in place to assist employees infected or affected by the disease such as illustrated on the bank’s Life Threatening Diseases policy. Wellness Champions also help to combat the stigma of HIV & AIDS in the workplace.
Nomsa refuses to let HIV rain on her parade, she keeps fit, eats well and maintains a happy disposition. She really is a shining example to all that know her.
If you are HIV positive, it is vital that, like Nomsa, you maintain your physical, psychological and emotional health. Having dependable sources of counseling and support can help you lead a happier, more fulfilling life.