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Personal story: Moeketsi

I took pills every day and I didn’t understand why

A young man sitting down
Photo credit: ©iStock/subman. Photos are used for illustrative purposes. They do not imply health status or behaviour.

"In 2007, I got critically ill to an extent where I thought I was dying. My grandmother took me to a clinic where I was tested for HIV. My results came back, and I had sadly tested positive for HIV. But I was not told the results.

I was then initiated on antiretroviral treatment (ART). I was still not feeling well during my early days of being on ART. I took pills every day and I didn’t understand why. My grandmother said they were for my nose bleeds. As time went by, I decided that when my nose is not bleeding then I will not take my medication. I started pill tossing (skipping pills). 

In 2013, I started experiencing stigma in school. Other children started talking about me saying I have AIDS. I did not feel comfortable going to school anymore.  

My sister then decided that I should move to stay with her. I agreed because maybe people who lived there were different and besides, they didn’t know me. There, I was referred to a clinic, where I had to continue my treatment. But I kept pill tossing.  

I was advised to join a teen club for psychosocial support. That is where I discovered I was living with HIV. I learned that I might have been infected by my mother. My sister finally disclosed to me that my mother tested HIV positive and unfortunately instead of going to the clinic for treatment, she went to traditional doctors. I decided from then that I was going to adhere to my medication.  

In 2017, I was initiated on second line treatment as I was failing on first line – my viral load was still excessively high. I went from taking 1 pill per day to 5. Eventually, my adherence improved and within 3 months my viral load was suppressed. 

In 2019 I was appointed as a peer educator at the clinic. My friends and I realised the lack of knowledge regarding HIV in our communities, especially among adolescents. We decided to disclose our statuses. Our aim was to remind people that HIV still existed and that being HIV positive doesn’t mean the end of life. 

My message to you my dear brother or sister is: Thinking you know about something does not necessarily mean you know about it. A lot of people think they know a lot about HIV, yet they don’t. 

I’m proud to say I’m now an HIV activist in Lesotho. I wish people who are living with HIV and are afraid to disclose or to even adhere well to their medication will read my story and learn a thing or two from it."

What we say

It’s quite common for young people to not be told until they’re older why they must take pills. It’s no wonder Moeketsi had poor adherence as he didn’t know the pills were for HIV. Moeketsi was able to reduce his viral load once he learned about HIV and adherence. Take your treatment every day to stay healthy with HIV. 

Do you have your own story to tell? Click the link to share it with us!

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: 12 June 2024
  • Last full review: 20 October 2022
  • Next full review: 20 October 2023
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