#16Days – Living with HIV

 

From the Daily Maverick [the Maverick just gets better and better] their series on 16 Days of Activism Against Violence Against Women. The last day of the series focuses on the work of South African photographer Leonie Marinovich who has been photographing and speaking with people in rural communities who are living with HIV.

Pretty Blose

Born ’87, November 3

Diagnosed 2005

We were all sleeping down on the floor, in the room with Granny. I was screaming and nobody heard. They were snoring, and sleeping like they’re dead. Yes. I screamed. I said, Somebody!

I even called one girl who has since passed away, my other aunt — her name was Buhle, I said, Buhle, Buhle, is anyone there, anyone can you hear me?

And nobody heard. And the guy had a big knife. He put it on my neck and he

held my mouth when I was screaming. And then he just raped me. I was 10.

And I was wearing that dress my aunt gave me, when she came back from Joburg. And when the guy raped me, the dress didn’t have the blood. The blood was in a white panty that I was wearing, so I took the white panty and I made it look like a balloon.

I was scared to tell my mother the truth. My dad and my mom, they were brought up with the whip. So they decided, that’s the way for me.

I would just get a hiding for nothing.

I was young and very reckless and rebellious, I won’t lie. There was a time when I was very strict with using condoms. I used them, but then I dated this older guy, and we had a long-term relationship and then, because I loved him, and I trusted him, I felt, why should I use protection?

I just became dumb out of nowhere. And then I got infected.

So I gave birth to my son, then, a bunch of doctors came in the morning. They said, Ah, good morning, Pretty. And then they said, Sorry dear, we are so sad to say this, but you are HIV-positive.

And the moment they said that, it’s like, something was going on in my ears; like I was going blank and deaf.

So I’m like, Oh God, God hates me. Did I do something bad to Him or to people that I live with? Did I do any major sin that I don’t know of, and now He is punishing me?

My granny was dating these men. And then all of a sudden she gets sick and she resigns from work. When she goes for her check-ups for blood pressure they discover that she’s HIV-positive. And then I’m like, damn, Granny now, can you believe i?. How can I tell people that my mother is HIV-positive, my dad’s big brother?  And a lot of my relatives that I could count? The list goes on.

And my father’s sleeping around with a lot of young girls. He doesn’t want the older ones; he wants them young and fresh. Holding a Black Label, his beer, his friend, he says: These doctors don’t know what they’re doing. I say, Okay, Dad, ja.

My older sister is also HIV-positive. She’s busy trying to lower her CD4 count because she wants to get a grant. She will die trying to get the fucking grant.

Then I defaulted.

My dad was busy stealing my ARVs. Can you believe it?   Continued on the Daily Maverick