Ntombi was infected with HIV when she was raped at 17. This is how she overcame the biggest challenge of her life.
It happened in November 2014. My friends and I had just finished our exams. To celebrate, we went to a classmate’s pens down party. After a few drinks, I was ready to go home. In my hurry to leave, I didn’t think about safety. I stayed close by, I thought I would be safe.
A guy started walking behind me on my way home. He came up to me and started a conversation; making jokes and making me feel relaxed around him. Then it happened. He forced himself on me. Afterwards, I felt guilty and ashamed.
Afraid to tell anyone what happened, I became withdrawn. I thought would judge me the way I judged myself. I had been drinking, I walked alone at night and maybe my jeans were too tight. I finally found the courage to tell my bestie’s older sister. She told me to get support, and took me to the clinic an examination.
My blood tests had more bad news. I was infected with HIV. With her support, I was eventually able to tell my parents what happened. It was hard at first, and my father even blamed me. Life became better after I joined an organisation called Hope. I found out about them at the clinic and on the Internet.
They support people who are HIV positive. My family and I were counselled and educated about living positively. I was taught about the importance of going to the clinic for regular check ups, taking my medication as instructed, and eating well so I can live a long and healthy life.
When I started spending a lot of time at Hope, I wanted to be like some people who worked there. They survived what I have been through and had happy lives. They had jobs, some were in relationships. It made me realise that horrible as my ordeal was, I still had a life. I still want to be a top student, go to university or open a business.
My parents have become supportive. My mother takes me to the clinic and my father makes sure that there’s always fruit and vegetables at home. We even jog together!
I’m now a volunteer at Hope. I educate communities about HIV and living positively when you are HIV+. I advise girls to keep safe when they are out and comfort them. I remind them that we are survivors and that being HIV+ is not a death sentence.
Click here for a list of organisations that offer counselling around the country.