A giant red ribbon made from balloons to celebrate World Aids Day in 2012. Credit: Bill Morrow/ Flickr

A giant red ribbon made from balloons to celebrate World Aids Day in 2012. Credit: Bill Morrow/ Flickr

“I may be living with HIV, but it won’t take my smile.”

These are the words of Mpuse Mofokeng (30) from Clarens in the Free State, who believes it is her radiant smile that keeps her moving forward in life.

“I found out that I was HIV positive, but that didn’t change who I am. I was angry at first, but I told myself that am going to start living a healthy life, and take my treatment,” she said.

Positive HIV test

“My husband passed away in July. Not long after his death I started falling sick. So I went to the clinic and they did some tests and I was told that I have TB. I immediately started taking my treatment, but I also asked for an HIV test, and boom! I discovered that am HIV positive,” she said.

“Wow. That was hard. I cried and went straight to my mother’s house and cried and cried some more. Eventually I was able to tell my mom, and she was great. She didn’t judge me and cried with me. She promised to support me, as she has since my husband died.”

From tears to a smile

Mofokeng says that she has discovered that she now finds peace in smiling. By focusing on her blessings and the good things around her, life does not get her down.

“There’s no denying that life is tough. I don’t work and I sometimes struggle to find enough money to buy food. But I thank my mother for being there for me. I know how to count my blessings.”

“My mother helps me where she can, and I go for counselling and have joined support groups so that I can learn more and stay motivated, because one day I would like to be an agent in support groups so that I can help others learn to accept their status,” she said.

Courage in acceptance

Modiehi Mofokeng, her mother, said: “I am very proud of my daughter. She was called names by the community, but she has managed to hold her head high. She didn’t let her sickness change who she is. And her smile was always there.”

Mpho Lekgowa, and agent from the loveLife support group, said as soon as a person accepts their status, they find courage. At that point they are able to stand up and ask for the treatment they need. – Health-e News.

An edited version of this story was published in The Star