By Kuli Roberts
Johannesburg – I chatted to a beautiful soul who erased many of my fears leading up to another World Aids Day.
Thula Mkhize, award-winning social entrepreneur, found out in 2009 that he was living with HIV.
He said he believed his life was a mess and now he teaches others to love and care for themselves. The issue is not defining people by their ailments.
“You don’t define a human being by their ailment. We need to stop it and look beyond the condition, then we will be empathetic and more supportive.
“Our communities will get to where they separate the condition from the person,” he said.
Why was it easy to disclose? “I was aware of who I was. I was so self-aware and confident in my skin and whatever the world said was not my issue,” he said. “I have never experienced stigma. Maybe someone said something offensive but I took it as an opportunity to teach them, so I understand why and how they made the statement. I then teach them based on a lived experience.
“That teaching moment empowers the ignorant statement. It is an opportunity for me to be the change agent.
“Because I am open, it becomes a teaching moment. I have three children and it’s amazing that we are celebrating 10 years.
“Everything I believed was possible when I started this campaign to change the narrative and help people get to the understanding of their responsibility. I was in a mess and 10 years later I have three kids and a wife. HIV does not invalidate your dreams. I am living a beautiful life.
Living with HIV is easier than being a Chiefs supporter
“I get sick like you get sick and if I were to get sick, I treat it the same way you would treat it. Sickness is part of life and if you become sick, please treat it the same way. “ARVs [antiretrovirals] have eliminated most of the virus, hence I don’t get sick from it. Living with HIV is easier than being a Chiefs supporter.”
Mkhize runs an informative website and YouTube channel, called Good Stories, focuses on prevention and getting people to use condoms.
“We operate in a space where we try to get people to understand how to control it. We get people to understand that you have made a mistake, now get on with your life.”
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