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Personal story: Bongani

I finally decided to stop allowing this thing to defeat me

A confident mid adult black man looking at the camera cheerfully.
Photo credit: ©iStock/electravk. Photos are used for illustrative purposes. They do not imply health status or behaviour.

"My name is Bongani and I’m 25 years old. I’m gay and I was diagnosed with HIV when I was 19.

Throughout my life I constantly learned about HIV - I was very aware of it. I was diagnosed in early thanks to testing every six months. I was advised to take antiretroviral therapy. I took my prescription to the pharmacy, picked up the medicine and went home.

I was very scared and realised that I wasn’t really aware of what was happening to me. The very next day I went back to my doctors and told them that I wanted to postpone starting the treatment. I was devastated and couldn’t really see myself taking treatment for the rest of my life or at least until they invent cure for it.

As someone who has always taken good care of my body, I started studying HIV. I read articles, scientific studies and a lot of books on the subject and realised this was it - there was no going back.

After almost three years of not taking treatment, and a lot of sleepless nights and sadness, I finally decided to stop allowing this thing to defeat me. I don’t even know how but I found strength in me and went to the doctors again. They put me on antiretroviral treatment which I’ve been taking for two years now.

I would like to advise anyone who is unsure to go and get tested for HIV, and to always use protection, even if you’re doing it ‘with someone you know’. Get tested regularly, that way you’ll know your HIV status.

Even if you test positive, don’t allow yourself to be defeated. I know you’ll hear this a lot, but I can confidently say that it’s not the end. Take your treatment and listen to your doctor’s advice. They are there to help you to go through the process.

And if you’re reading this and feeling alone, know one thing: there’s a guy called Bongani who’s got your back and supporting you to do the right thing. Love you!"

What we say

It took Bongani three years to come to terms with his diagnosis and his new reality of living with HIV. He found his way by studying and taking an active decision to live with it rather than being defeated by it. He’s now confident in his future and wants to pass his learning and support on to others, including the fact that the sooner you start treatment the healthier you will be.

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These personal stories have been submitted to us anonymously by individuals who use our site. Some of the stories have been edited for clarity purposes and names have been changed to protect identities.

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  • Last updated: 14 November 2022
  • Last full review: 01 March 2022
  • Next full review: 01 March 2025
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