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Positive choices

Choice Somagaca found out she was HIV positive a week after giving birth to her first born child when she was tested by medical staff at the hospital. Now the Chairperson of the George Local AIDS Council and an inspiration to her community, Choice has come a long way from the dark day when she was first tested for HIV.

“I found out about my HIV status a week after I gave birth to my first born child. I had a high fever that was not going down after giving birth and only on the seventh day I was asked to do an HIV test by the medical staff of the hospital I was at.

It was the worst day of my life. My day turned into night. I was given pre-test counselling although I don’t remember a thing the nurse asked me during that and I was crying the whole session. After seeing the parallel lines of the ELISA test, I went into a very dark zone. And the post-test counselling did not help in any way and that was the last time I heard from any of the nurses who tested and counselled me.

I was angry at myself for a lot of reasons, I was emotionally wounded and very hurt and I felt disappointed.

It took me the longest six months of my life to tell someone. Keeping my status to myself was the hardest thing I ever had to do. I became depressed before I could tell my mom but after I told her I could get the support and love from her.

I started being hopeful for the future of me living a healthy and fruitful life while living positive with HIV.

Seventeen years later my viral load is -40 and my CD4 count is 1,079 – I am healthier than I can imagine. All my children are HIV negative. My daughter, who was seven days old when I found out, is turning 17 in December this year. She is an intelligent young girl and doing grade 11.

I’m optimistic about the future and life in general. I’m employed by the South African Police Service (SAPS) for the past 15 years, I’m also a Peer Educator and an HIV Ambassador in the SAPS. I’m the current Chairperson of the George Local AIDS Council. I do motivational talks when and if requested. I love sharing my journey through life living positive with HIV.

If you have never loved yourself prior testing for HIV, then the time becomes now to love yourself and be gentle with yourself. You can live a healthy and very productive life while living positive with HIV. The virus is not you, it just lives in your blood and with the help of antiretrovirals (ARVs) it can live dormant for as long as you are compliant to your treatment.

Go through the emotions and deal with them, ask for help – from family or professionals who work with people who live with HIV.

Love yourself enough not to let a virus destroy or end your life, live one day at a time.”