Thembelihle Dlamini-Ngcoya

My name is Thembelihle Dlamini-Ngcoya, shortened to “Lihle”. I was born and raised in a small community of Lamontville on 24 November 1974. I was my mother’s only child, but have 5 siblings from my father’s side. I am the eldest in my family. My home language is Zulu, but can also speak, read and write, English and Xhosa.

I discovered my HIV positive status in April 2002, when I was sick and diagnosed with extra-pulmonary TB. I then decided to have an HIV test and discovered that I am HIV positive. I then started TB treatment and joined a support group in McCords hospital. I then joined TAC late 2002, started a support group and a TAC branch in my community. Since then, I have been able to help many people in my community, who have been encouraged to go for VCT, tested positive and started ARV treatment. I also have been part of Siyayinqoba Beat it, a TV and outreach programme that teaches people about HIV and its management. I started ARV treatment (combivir and stocrine) in august 2003, when my CD4 count was 91. I then changed my regimen to combivir and nevirapine in 2004, because my fiance and I were planning to have children in future. My Cd4 count is now over 650 and my viral load has been undetectable since 2004.

I became one of the first Treatment Literacy practitioners in TAC (2004), promoted to Trainer in 2005 and in 2006, I got employed as the Kwazulu-natal provincial Organiser since 2006. I enjoy spending quiet time at home, reading and watching TV. I also love to go shopping, especially when I want to pamper myself after a month of hard work.

I met my husband Mandla Ngcoya in 2004 and got married on 23 December 2006. We do not have any children yet, but plan to have them in future. “Lihle Dlamini” has somehow become my ‘brand’ and it’s very hard for me and others to adapt to the fact that I have to use my husband’s surname.

I have not faced any stigma or discrimination from any of my family members and community. In fact, my family and neighbours were very supportive when I was ill. The message that I would like to pass on is ” there is so much life after knowing your HIV status. Only you can set your limits, you just have to think positively and everything will fall into place”. Being HIV positive is not a death sentence and there is so much that can still happen in your life. Look at my life, I was not working when I was tested for HIV, but now am working and married. I have a car and a house, so what can stop you from achieving your goals?

“Think positively and live a positive life”.