Rachel Nolan

Rachel Nolan

I am originally from Zimbabwe and was born on the 24th of November 1976. I tested positive on the 6th of June 2002. Me going for the test was like a joke as I was so confident I was negative because I had been with the same guy for a while after my son’s dad left me. In the counselling session I was like the counsellor, I knew all the answers. Only for the results to come back “Positive”. I was shattered, scared, confused, weak and wished I could just die there and then. I cried till I couldn’t cry anymore.

The first person I told was my driver but he was so supportive and actually hugged me and told me all will be fine. I should think positive, eat well, think of my son and pray. I then told my mum who took it badly and also broke down but was and is very supportive. Slowly I told my sisters, who also took it badly and other family members yet they all stood by me. I didn’t tell my son as he was too young to understand and only told him abt 4 years ago, he too took it badly, cried and was so hurt. But I spoke to him about it, educated him and now he encourages me and looks after me like he is my father!

Unfortunately the word got out in my community and I was rejected, stigmatized and judged. The first 3 months were really hard for me. A few months later I attempted suicide and was rushed to hospital. They kept me in for almost 3 weeks as they said I needed counselling. My younger sister used to come and visit me with my son who at the time was about 5 years old. One day she came without him and I when I asked where he was, she told me he said he doesn’t want to see me in the hospital. I will only see him if I come out of the hospital. That’s when it hit me, I had a reason to live (my son). I call him my angel because he gave me strength to carry on. Only a handful of friends stood by my side. I gave my life to the Lord, became born again and have never looked back.

As the years went by I started sharing my story with others only to discover I was not alone and times were changing. I wasn’t aware of it at the time but my testimony helped a lot of people going through exactly what I went through. I thank the Lord I never got critically sick and was healthy most of the time. My CD4 was always high, I ate well, exercised, prayed and got enough rest. As I got closer to the Lord, I felt stronger and was healed spiritually.

I moved to South Africa in 2010, got involved with a guy who was abusive and it seems the abuse took a lot out of me as late last year (December 2011), my CD4 dropped from 684 to 285 and the Doctor informed me I would need to start ARV treatment. I started taking the meds in January 2012 and so far so good. I have gained weight, am glowing and feel so good about myself… I have been through a lot but it just made me stronger. HIV is not a death sentence and we should never treat anyone differently because of their status. We are all human and all deserve to be loved and treated the same. I am in a relationship now with a man that loves me as I am and is so supportive. “If I can do it, so can you”… Be blessed.