Something tells me this man graduates every single day.
LOVE ITSource: humansofnewyork
“I’m Going to Tell The Whole World”: An HIV “Expert Patient,” In Her Own Words
In 2001, I tested positive for HIV. At that time, I was 25 years old and in a terrible state. I had lost a lot of weight, I was vomiting, had cold and hot rashes and was saying weird things. My whole body was covered with sores and I was confined to a wheelchair. Literally, I was more dead than alive.
In 2004, I started volunteering for an organization that helped people living with HIV/AIDS in Nhlangano, the capital of Shiselweni region. They asked me to share my experiences, and I told people about antiretroviral treatment and what it had done for me.
When I started seeing MSF cars in Nhlangano in 2009, I became curious and asked around. Someone told me what MSF was doing, and immediately I wrote my application letter and was hired as an “expert patient.” My role is to do pre and post-test counseling and to be there for the patients when they need support.
I really like the work with the patients. I know I give them hope by telling my story. Today I am fine. I have a healthy four-year-old boy who is HIV negative. Before I had him, five children I brought to this world had died, each after six months. My older son is 17, and he is well, too. I know what the patients are going through, and telling them my story and how important it is to stick to the treatment encourages them. The other day a young girl even told me I was her role model. That made me very happy.
Photo: Thembi (right) with her two sons
Swaziland 2012 © Irene Jancsy/MSF
”I’ve got three bullets in my leg from Vietnam.”
“You got shot three times?”
“I got shot five times. Three are still in there.”
After I took the photograph, he walked away a few steps, then came back: “If anyone wants to know,” he said, “my name is Staff Sergeant Frank Melillo.”