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Coach Mpuseng: Triumph Over Stigma
A journey of resilience, hope, and living positively with hiv/aids
In a world where the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS continues to persist, Coach Mpuseng stands as a beacon of resilience and triumph. For the past 24 years, she has navigated the tumultuous journey of living positively with HIV/AIDS, defying the odds and emerging as a symbol of hope for others facing similar challenges. "I was diagnosed with HIV in 1999, a time when letters equated denunciation and death. At a time when there was limited knowledge of HIV/AIDS, no support, and no pre-and post-counseling I was a Correctional Officer and witnessed lives being lost daily. I was married at the time and suffered a few untreated STIs while my ex-husband was refusing to go for STI treatment as he would say 'Are you saying I make you sick?' I could say that signs were there, but I still did not expect the diagnosis. I was angry and confused because I couldn't understand why me? I was a faithful wife and a very spiritual person, so why would God allow this to happen to me?" Mpuseng said.
As we commemorate World AIDS Day, CoachMpuseng's story is a powerful testament to the importance of testing, starting and staying on treatment, and seeking support in this global pandemic. Her HIV was diagnosed when she was undergoing treatment for cervical cancer. During that period in South Africa HIV was still a 'new' thing and quite frankly doctors were also confused as she tested three times and got different results, positive, negative, and inconclusive which made it easier for her to ignore them and focus on cervical cancer. She added, "It was very emotionally and physically draining as I had to go for chemotherapy but ultimately underwent hysterectomy as the cancer had spread through the uterus. It was also a very confusing time of my life as I was only 26, married with small children and no proper support from my in-laws let alone my husband. It was a cold, lonely, and difficult time because I wasn't even allowed to tell my family what was happening.
After she was hospitalized in 2007, her sister took a bold step to help her understand what was going on. She had full-blown AIDS with a CD4 count of 56. Her family stood by her firmly and educated her more about this condition. HIVforged a new path for her and enabled her to expand her knowledge about it. In 2013 she completed a course in HIV Care and Counseling through UNISA. She emphasized the need to educate one another as peers about this virus and not stigmatize it. "In my experience, people relate better with someone who is in the same situation. For example, counselors at healthcare facilities do counseling because they studied for it and people relate to real emotions and or empathy."
People can live life to the fullest with HIV, just like I have by God's grace. In August 2023 I graduated as a LifeCoach with the Academy of York and I am a certified member of COMENSA. Currently awaiting my external moderation on Employee Wellness through Academy of York, yes I am chasing my dreams and doing what makes me happy."
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Rainny Nkhatho Director & CEO