I’m going to be honest. At twenty-five, I knew how to prevent HIV. But coming from a remote rural village and being in Johannesburg where everything is new, everything is at your fingertips—it’s difficult to control yourself.
I knew I was doing some things sexually that I was not supposed to, but there was this idea in my mind that the people most likely to be infected were the uneducated, or prostitutes, those kinds of people. I had a good job as an aircraft technician. I didn’t imagine I would get HIV from someone who looks nice.
I actually waited until I turned twenty-one to engage in sexual activities. And then for me to get infected at twenty-five, I felt really ripped off. If I were to go back and do it all over again, I wouldn’t abstain, but I would condomize.
Nowadays, relationships are a challenge for me, because you meet a person, you like her very much, but then you need to disclose your status to her. I always prefer to disclose before I get too attached, to protect myself. Based on my experience there will be some rejection, either indirect or direct. People who like you initially might just go away.
I decided I needed to meet more HIV-positive people, so I started volunteering. Eventually I resigned from my job and became a treatment literacy practitioner. For me, being HIV-positive and being in a position where I can empower other people is great.