South Africa

I am Thobani. I was born and raised in the Eastern Cape and I am the first-born of 6, though one of my siblings has passed away.  I learned that I was HIV positive in early 1997 and my life changed forever. After my diagnosis, my health was very bad and I was hospitalised on 5 separate occasions because there was no treatment available back then in South Africa.

Living openly with HIV early in the 2000s was difficult because there was a lot of stigma and discrimination in the community around AIDS. The most important thing that happened in my life was gaining access to antiretroviral treatment through a Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) pilot programme in Khayelitsha near Cape Town. That medication saved my life and I have been an HIV activist for decades because I believe everyone should have access to life-saving treatment.