Live your life with HIV

2015-12-02 06:00
THE HIV awareness ribbon.

THE HIV awareness ribbon.

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STUDIES have shown that South Africa has the biggest and highest HIV epidemic profile in the world, with an estimated 6,3 million people living with HIV in 2013. In the same year, there were 330 000 new infections while 200 000 South Africans died from Aids-related illnesses.

“I have been living with HIV for 15 years. Being HIV positive does not mean you are going to die. It is manageable,” said 36-year-old Mochabane Morake, one of the Free State province’s Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) members.

This father of two is adamant that he is normal, despite people thinking he is ill and unable to function fully.“It was not easy to accept my status and be this positive about it, at first. When I was diagnosed, HIV was seen as a death sentence and I was told that I only had three months to live. Now, 15 years down the line, I am still well, alive and kicking. However, I have sadly lost many friends and family members due to the dreadful virus,’’ he said.

He indicated that he has often received requests from pastors and traditional healers to heal him, but he has refused. According to him, if something is not scientifically proven, it does not exist.

‘’People believe what they want and it is a pity, because they become victims of false pastors and prophets,’’ he added.

However, Past. Dee Adeola Oyewole, wife of Past. Olukayode Oyewole, in charge of the Redeemed Christian Church of God Kings Palace Parish in Bloemfontein, has a different view.

According to her, God is the ultimate healer. She has previously witnessed the healing of people who had suffered for years from cancer. Despite not witnessing an HIV healing, she believes it is possible.

The reason she has not witnessed it, is because people fear the stigma attached to the disease and find it difficult to confide in others, fearing rejection.

Oyewole also believes that people cannot receive their healing because they are bound by sin. They firstly need to repent and establish a relationship with Jesus, in order to receive their full healing, she emphasised.

“People should not deny themselves of the power and love of God because they had previously been hurt by man.

“They need to seek Him and not man. Is there anything too hard for God?” she asked.

A mother of two, who did not want to be identified, revealed that she was diagnosed with the virus in May 2014. She said since she received the painful news, she has not been the same person and it is only her kids that keep her going.

“It really has affected me emotionally and mentally,’’ she said. The woman said she was told by a nurse that she does not need to take antiretrovirals (ARVs), as her CD4 count is above 500.

“I still genuinely believe that God will heal me. He knows when the time is right and I will stand strong on His word and His promises,’’ she said.

Lerato Mokoni, a counselor at New Start, said everyone infected with the virus can live a positive life. The key is to accept your status and everybody else will follow.

He also said that at this stage there is scientifically no cure for the virus and initially people were only prescribed ARVs if their CD4 count was below 350. But now, everyone diagnosed with the virus is given treatment immediately, irrespective of the CD4 count.

“It is important to disclose your status to your family and friends. That way you will be supported’’ he added.

Dr. Riaan C. Flooks, specialist physician at the Mediclinic Bloemfontein, has given the following tips for people living with the virus:

  • DAILY HABITS: Eat healthy food. Healthy food helps to keep you strong, give you more energy and support your immune system. Healthy food helps you to remain healthier overall.

A healthy diet for someone living with HIV is one that is rich in whole grains, low fat dairy products, protein and lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. Include multi-vitamins, especially B12 and zinc, wherever possible. Remember that a healthy diet is also about what you do not eat: Try to cut out fried foods and sugary drinks as much as you can.

  • Avoid certain foods. Avoid unpasteurised dairy products, raw eggs and raw seafood, such as oysters, sushi or sashimi. Cook meat until it is well-done.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Stop all drug use, such as cocaine, heroin or methamphetamines. Seek treatment for your addiction. Sharing needles to use such drugs, can leave you vulnerable to other infections such as hepatitis, and that may lead to the more rapid progression of HIV to Aids.
  • Get moderate exercise. Being physically active three to six times a week, can help to improve your mood and your outlook on life, as well as improve your overall quality of life.
  • Practice safer sex. Having HIV does not mean the end of your sex life Z but you should always use a condom whenever you do engage in sex.
  • Get tested and treated for sexually transmitted diseases. Many people with HIV also have other STDs, even if they are asymptomatic.
  • Take your medication as prescribed and visit your doctor often. Your doctor may have prescribed HIV medication to help your body’s immune system stay healthy for longer.
  • Take steps to prevent infections, such as the regular washing of your hands. Get immunisations which may prevent infections such as pneumonia and flu.
  • Take care with the handling of pets.


  • CD4 count Z less than 350; or
  • CD4 count of 350 to 500;
  • Other severe HIV-related illnesses.


  • Opportunistic infections;
  • Malignancies.

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