HIV and AIDS OurHealth

“Rage almost killed me”

Written by Cynthia Maseko

Zanele Mhlanga* , 31, from Ermelo in the Gert Sibande district is a mother of three, has been married for nine years and is a business owner. She was diagnosed with HIV two-and-a-half years ago, and believes she was infected by her husband. She tells her story.

“Things were not easy at first and I wanted to punish my husband so badly that I nearly lost my life. I started drinking alcohol and smoking. In November last year I had a car accident and had to stay in hospital for three months. While in hospital I found out I was two months pregnant.

While I was in hospital we were advised to test for HIV the second time. That’s when my husband and I decided that we should go for voluntary counseling testing (VCT) for HIV and we tested positive again. The first time I tested for HIV I didn’t understand anything because of the anger. We joined a support group for HIV-infected couples.

When I was 14 weeks pregnant I was put on the Prevention Of Mother To Child Transmission (PMTCT) programme and started treatment. At 28 weeks I was given a single dose of Nevirapine to drink during labour and I received AZT every three hours during labour.

After my daughter was born at Ermelo Hospital she was given Nevirapine syrup within 72 hours.

I breastfeed exclusively as it is the best. After my daughter was born, I started ARV’s. I am on fixed-dose combination (FDC) antiretroviral medicine now (the three-in-one ARV pill). Things have been going well and I haven’t experienced many side effects.

At six weeks my daughter was tested for HIV and the result was negative. I am still breastfeeding exclusively and she’s healthy and growing.

Life has been wonderful. I even stopped smoking and drinking alcohol.”

* Not her real name.

About the author

Cynthia Maseko

Cynthia Maseko joined OurHealth in 2013 as a citizen journalist working in Mpumalanga. She is passionate about women’s health issues and joined Treatment Action Campaign branch as a volunteer after completing her matric. As an activist she has been involved with Equal Treatment, Planned Parenthood Association of South Africa, Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV and also with Marie Stopes Clinic’s project Blue Star dealing with the promotion of safe abortions and HIV education.