Namibia: A Decade of Living Positively With HIV

Nuusita Ashipala

New Era [Namibia]


Ongwediva — A woman from Oshikoto Region, Helena Hatutale, has lived positively with HIV for the past ten years and is still going strong.

The 34-year-old Hatutale told New Era that since she was diagnosed with HIV in 2004 she has not experienced any severe illnesses apart from the usual minor flus and headaches.

“I am grateful for what the Lord has done for me since I tested positive,” said Hatutale.

Hatutate has a two-year-old daughter whom she startlingly breastfed for nearly a year after birth. But luckily the little girl is HIV negative. Hatutale says although it took her close to ten years before going public and revealing her status, she reckons it is important to share her life story with the nation, hoping her story will inspire other HIV infected people to live positively without fear of death and stigma.

“It’s a decade and that’s a milestone. I cannot thank my Lord enough and I hope to encourage other youths to live positively,” said Hatutale.

She said she was at first afraid to reveal her HIV status and feared how her family would react. Hatutale said she used to constantly joke about her HIV status to prepare the family to eventually hear the truth.

Although her family was initially shocked they later accepted the news because of her positive attitude towards life.

The vibrant Hatutale, who makes a living by selling traditional breads and meat, said “society still does not understand how to deal with HIV positive people”.

As such, many a time customers do not buy from her because of her HIV status.

“It doesn’t mean that if you come close to me or eat my food you will also get the virus. But there are people who pass by my business and say they will not buy from an HIV positive person,” said Hatutale.

Despite the victimization, Hatutale says she won’t abandon her business.

According to Hatutale, to live positively an HIV positive person must be courageous enough to ignore unpleasant remarks made about people living with HIV.

She said that living with HIV is not the end of the world and encourages other young people to live positively if diagnosed with the virus.