Lundi Ntikinca counts himself lucky – he has lived with HIV for some 8 years and has not suffered any opportunistic infections that have necessitated expensive medicines.

His battle with TB, however, has meant that he can no longer work as a carpenter and spray-painter because the fumes affect his chest, so he is currently unemployed. He has four children – all HIV negative – who live with their mother.

“I managed to survive those early years of HIV and all that stigma and discrimination. I kept it secret until I broke the silence in 1998 to my brother.

“Nowadays there is medication that one can get to control the virus, but the problem is that the drugs are costly and it’s a battle to get them.

“I would like to know that if I started going down, my doctor could give me those medicines.”

Ntikinca takes a holistic view of what it means to live with HIV and saysthat being at peace with yourself is an important aspect of staying healthy. “From what I know, keeping this disease as a secret is like a poison – it’s eating you. Talking about it and attending a support group, that’s a form of medicine. That cures you before you meet a doctor.” While he thanks God for his good health, he is all too aware of friends of his who have died as result of HIV/AIDS.

“I was born and raised in Gugulethu, there were many guys from my street whom I’ve heard about here in Khayelitsha — so-and-so is dead, because he was HIV positive. “Why did they die so quickly? If these medicines were available, maybe they would still be alive.”

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