Health-E, Couples encouraged to test – Part 2: Living with AIDS # 188, 3 September 2004

by Khopotso Bodibe

Last week we heard about South Africa’s first HIV counselling and testing service for couples – the Tshwarisanang Centre based at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, in Soweto. This week, a couple talks about how this service has benefited them.

NTOMBIKAYISE NDZINISA: I’m Ntombikayise Ndzinisa. I stay at Protea Glen… As a person who is HIV positive, me and my husband had a need to come to a place whereby we’d meet other couples who are having the same problem – if you can call it a problem – so that we can share and find out how other couples are living with this situation that we are living with. So far, it’s been great with us because we have met other couples.

ALBERT NDZINISA: I’m Albert Ndzinisa. I’m staying in Protea Glen… In this centre we learn a lot. Into em’coka nje kahle-kahle ngibone nje ukuthi sibaningi and then sibaningi si-open, sikanyekanye. We share everything about HIV. And then, ngikwaze nokubona ukuthi ama-families amaningi a phila njengoba nathi siphila. And then, sizo qhubeka siphile futhi. Nayo into engifike ngayifunda la kuyi-support group yethu.

TRANSLATION: The most important thing that I have learnt is that there are many couples who are affected by HIV, just like my wife and I. And we will continue living. And here, we are open. I have learnt to share everything with other support group members about life and HIV.

NTOMBIKAYISE NDZINISA: I have learnt a lot, especially having my husband beside me… To have a husband who doesn’t mind… Most of the people think that he is also HIV positive, (and) that is why he chose me. Since we’ve been here it’s been great because he heard some other things, people telling him some other things – confusing things – although he never came to me angry. But he’d come to me asking me ‘hey, I’ve heard this and that. How do we go about it?’ And I’d say ‘no, please, if we go to Tshwarisanang Couples’ Counselling we’ll raise that together with other couples and we’ll talk about it there.’ And he’ll be patient again.

ALBERT NDZINISA: The other people told me about the condoms… Bathi kunesifo engizosithola mina uma ngiyuza amacondom endlini. Besengifik’ endlini ngiyabuza nami ‘mama ngaphandle abantu bathi amacondom abanga amakidneys ngoba a gcwalisa umoya esiswini. Into bengiyisaba bekube eyokuthi ngizabulawa izintso, ngafik’ endlini ngayishera. Ezinye e eziningi anginandaba nazo. Ngiyazi ukuthi icondom amascientists ayihlolile, angeke asinike into ezaphinde isigulise futhi.

TRANSLATION: They told me that if I use condoms I will develop a kidney infection. Because I was worried that I’d have a kidney condition I shared this bit of hearsay with my wife. But I’m not worried now because I know that scientists would not give us condoms with the intention of poisoning us with more disease.

NTOMBIKAYISE NDZINISA: Here at Tshwarisanang we’ve talked about how to eat (and) what to eat, how to take your medication if you are already on medication or you have to start medication, to go for (a) CD 4 count so that you’ll know that ‘now I must start the drugs.’ We’ve been taught that the condom, although it’s not 100 % safe, it’s better than not to use it all… As I’m a woman I must do my pap smear. He must use a condom. Those are the things that are going to make us live longer and to have a positive mind. Make it a point that you don’t tell yourself that ‘I’m HIV positive and HIV is going to kill me.’ Many things can kill me besides HIV.

ALBERT NDZINISA: On my side… iAIDS iyafana nje nezinye izifo… ngizofa already… ngiye ngim’tshele nonkosikazi wami… ukufa kunye nje… ukuphuma kom’phofumulo em’zimbeni, that’s all.

TRANSLATION: I might or might not be at risk of contracting HIV from my wife. But AIDS is like any other disease. Besides, I’m going to die anyway. I always tell my wife that death happens only in one way no matter the cause. It’s the spirit leaving your body.

NTOMBIKAYISE NDZINISA: People must come out because you end up blaming each other instead of blaming HIV. And even if you can blame HIV, blaming is not going to take us anywhere. Be honest. I think you must tell your partner even if he’s going to dump you or what. It’s not a problem to be dumped. You’ve been dumped before. So, it’s up to him or her how he’s going to take it, as long as you are honest with it. You must be honest about HIV. Some people find out about it and they don’t tell their partners; and they are not using condoms; and they end up getting sick at the same time the both of them. What’s the use of that? You mustn’t get sick the both of you because you love each other. As I’m HIV positive, my husband wants me to live longer. I also want him to live longer. That’s how we see things. It’s all about to live a healthy life, not an HIV life. We don’t have an HIV life in our home. We have a normal, happy life with dreams… I appeal to people, please tell your partners about HIV. You owe (it to) them. They need to know.




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