We hear from Zameka, who tells us how she felt when she found out her best friend had HIV.
One August afternoon, my friend Nonkosinathi approached me and said “there’s something I wanna tell you”. I was too busy to talk to her, but I could tell from the look on her face that this probably wasn’t good news. So I listened. I tried to break the ice with a little joke: “are you on drugs or something, what’s going on with you?” She dazzled me with a laugh.
We eventually went to her place, closed the burglar guard and the front door. I had no clue whatsoever as to what she wanted to share with me. Then she took out tablets from a brown paper bag that was sitting on the table and said “I’m HIV positive, I’ve been using these tablets for years now and believe me I wanted to tell you but I didn’t want you feeling uncomfortable talking about the virus in my presence especially getting into deep details and feeling sorry for me somehow”.
My heart was pounding, racing terribly as she was talking. I could feel my temperature rising. I didn’t see it coming. It came as a shock. I didn’t believe it. It hit me so hard. My eyes were filled with tears and I couldn’t look her in the eyes because I was broken inside and didn’t want her to see that at that moment. It wasn’t easy at all. I gave her a tight hug. I was confused and didn’t have much to say.
After hugging her, I was groggy and I looked at her. From that moment I knew I had to be strong for her. I reached out and took her hands and held them tightly. I took a deep breath and told her “I still love you like before, you being positive doesn’t change anything and it won’t come between us”.
Honestly, I was kind of mad at her because I had shared a lot of my personal stuff with her, yet she kept a big secret from me. I thought she knew me better, but I knew that this moment was not the right time for an argument, so I calmed myself for the sake of the situation, she didn‘t need that.
I had many questions but I wanted to adjust to the situation first before I asked Nonkosinathi. There didn’t seem to be anything I could do to make her feel better but only to be there and support her all the way. I waited for 2 days until I asked how she had become infected with HIV.
Before she told me about her HIV status our friendship was made of concrete but now its stronger, more like steel.
I was amazed by Nonkosinathi’s self-confidence and her determination to change people’s perspectives about the virus. Despite the inevitable adversity she faced, she stood tall and shared her story with hundreds of women at public events. Without a doubt, her story has had a positive impact on these young women.
HIV positive or negative, we can conquer this disease together.
Read Nonkosinathi’s story here.
Do you know anyone living with HIV? How did you feel when they told you?