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SOUTH AFRICA: Nonqaba Jacobs, "She says it's from Satan that you are positive"

Photo: Lee Middleton/IRIN
"People there are also not open at all about their status"
KHAYELITSHA, 31 May 2011 (PlusNews) - Nonqaba Jacobs, 28, comes from a rural community outside East London; both parents were HIV-positive and she tested positive in 2004. In 2005 she moved to Khayelitsha, near Cape Town, where she found treatment and attitudes towards HIV to be a world away from what she experienced in the Eastern Cape. These days she is doing well, but is worried about her mother, who has gone off her antiretrovirals in favour of "faith healing" at the Christ Embassy church.

"I tested in East London. I had come in for another STI, and the nurse suggested the test. I didn't suspect anything, but I knew everything about HIV because my mom and dad were both positive. My dad died in 2004, two months after I found out my status and my mom is still alive and supported me with everything.

“I stayed in the rural areas where there are no clinics. It's totally different between the rural areas and here. Here I just walk from my house to the clinic. In Eastern Cape I must spend 50 Rand [US$7] to go to the clinic, and then you stay the whole day because there's only one doctor in the ARV site, and after 12 o'clock you are only seen by nurses because the doctor has to go see other patients in the hospital.

“People there are also not open at all about their status. If you go to the ARV site, they hide themselves. If you see someone you know she's not friendly when you're around the clinic. Here people know their rights and they talk openly about their status, especially in Khayelitsha. There, they're really scared of people with HIV.

“I've disclosed to everyone in my house so if I forget my pills, they remind me. I don't find any difficulties with adherence - it's like drinking water. I met my boyfriend in 2007, just before I started ARVs. He did a test and was negative. There are a few challenges though. When I come to the TAC [Treatment Action Campaign] office, he thinks I'll meet someone who's HIV-positive and I'll fall in love with that person. Because he's negative and I'm positive, he's worried that I want to be in a relationship with someone who's also positive. I think he's a bit insecure when I'm around HIV-positive people.

“I'm okay, but there's one thing that's been upsetting me. My mom attended the healing school in the Christ Embassy and she has stopped her pills since then. She was on second-line. She says it's from Satan that you are positive. She believes she's been healed, so she has nothing more to do with pills. She's just praying when she feels down. Her CD4 is 98, so that's stressing me, because I can't do anything to change her mind. She's the one who first encouraged me to take my pills and do everything right, but now she's turning back. We end up fighting about it, because she says she's saved, and I believe in medicine."

lm/kn/mw

Theme (s): HIV/AIDS (PlusNews),

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

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