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Malaika

I wanted to write to encourage everyone living with HIV to stay positive no matter what. That is the greatest weapon you have to fight this illness. My life has been touched by HIV so profoundly. I am negative by the grace of God. However I lost my beautiful sister who was only 43 and my two brothers, these were the closest to me, I cannot begin to count the other relations I have lost. Coming from an African country, the stigma attached to having HIV is what kills people. We would rather hide behind witchcraft and ignorance than face the truth. I urge people from all over the world to get tested and know your status.

I wish I had been brave enough to tell my sister to get tested when I last saw her in 2003, but she being older than me, I thought I would be disrespecting her but I could tell that she and her husband were showing obvious symptoms. It was only in 2007 when her husband had been ill on and off for a number of years and she had started complaining of having thrush in the mouth that I found the courage to tell her to get tested and sure enough she was positive. I have done a lot of research on this illness as I believe that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. Sadly I lost my beloved sister in 2009 to PCP which came on very quickly.

I urge all to get tested and to tell the virus that the only way it can live is if you live. Also if you are not well, seek medical attention immediately. It is true that God does not give us burdens we cannot carry.

God bless you all and don't ever give up. I love you all as if I know you.