In July 2000, 10-year-old Nkosi Johnson gave a speech at the opening of the 13th International Aids Conference in Durban. He detailed his life, beginning with what it was like to live in a community which discriminated against people with HIV/Aids.
Nkosi, whose mother passed away in 1997, was adopted by Gail Johnson, and lived out his life raising awareness about the pandemic as confusion reigned. With the mixed messages we were receiving from the government and media of the time, one can see how difficult life must have been for people living with HIV/Aids.
Fast forward to 2016, and we still have the highest profile HIV epidemic in the world. According to UNAIDS (the UN Programme on HIV/Aids) an estimated 7 million people are infected, and many millions more are affected. The good news is that SA has the largest antiretroviral treatment programme in the world.
My friend Criselda Kananda-Dudumashe launched her memoir on Tuesday, You Are Never Alone, and as someone who has been living positively for almost 20 years, her story is a reminder that being diagnosed with HIV/Aids is not a death sentence, one can live a long and productive life!
In this Aids month let us all re-examine whatever prejudices we may be harbouring against our sisters and brothers living with the virus . Let us remember that we are indeed all the same; one humanity, with a heartbeat and a pulse.