Polly known as the “Diva” was born and bred in a small village called Lusizi in Kentane, Eastern Cape. Polly is the only child. A born again Christian and a single-mom, blessed with one kid. Polly is very principled, grew up in a Christian home, and upheld strong values. A girl who was/is so proud not to have been influenced by friends to drink alcohol until today, not to say she looks down on those that drink, but because of this, she was viewed as a village girl. But proudly so, she knew who she was. An experienced Executive Personal Assistant, an up-coming motivational speaker as well as a leader of the Kempton Park HIV/AIDS support group, and holds a Diploma in Public Management and Administration. An HIV/AIDS Ambassador and an Author in her own right. She was diagnosed with HIV in the year 2000, 14 years later she’s as healthy as any normal being. She’s had her own struggles with the virus but she refused to bow down to HIV/AIDS. She became sick in 2008 and in that hospital bed, her book was born entitled “WHO TOLD YOU – A WOMAN’S JOURNEY WITH HIV”. Her struggles are already documented for all to read. Like an open book. Get a copy. Her mission is to teach a message of self-respect through the trying times, to provide others with spiritual nourishment to rise above the killer disease and to stress the importance of taking Antiretroviral. She has been crowned Avis Rent a Car – Woman of the year 2012 nationally and has also been featured on a few magazines including the Oprah Magazine as well as the FNB Blog – You can Help. Talk about turning a mess into a message, a message of success, resilience and tenacity. The book is available online on amazon.com and you can also visit her website on www.myjourneywithhiv.simplesite.com.
In the year 2000, I got married and my husband was based in Johannesburg and I had to move from home, Eastern Cape, Centane to Johannesburg. After a few months after relocation, my husband and I decided to buy a house of our own and the requirements from the insurance company was that we had to go for the HIV test before the bond would be approved. The results came back and unfortunately, I was positive and he was negative. I must say that it came as a great shock, and my first thought was, I’m going to die. I kept asking myself if, I will see 5yrs to come, not to mention 10 years and now it is 14 years that I have seen.
I was always a one man woman, and that is what made me to ask questions like, “why me” when I got infected. This then says a lot and is a lesson to some if not all of us to say, it is not about how many man you sleep with, one needs to act responsible all the time. At the end of it all, your life is in the decisions you make at every moment. As you lay, don’t lay the responsibility in someone else’s hands
I almost had no hand in it. In 2008 I got sick, with a CD4 cell count of four and thousands of the viral cells. As I was in that hospital bed, my book entitled, WHO TOLD YOU - A WOMAN'S JOURNEY WITH HIV was born. Ironically as I thought I was about to die. I wrote it in 2010 and got it published early 2012. Although I could not have realised that, I was on the journey of disclosure by writing the book. When the book came out I had to disclose, and I must say that “disclosure” is the best medication for those that are infected. It brings you healing and freedom. I was at first concerned about the reaction of what people will say and not realising that I was my own prisoner. When you start hiding, one does not realise that every day they are imprisoned by the burden they carry all alone. I remember when I started taking medication, I would bring my medication to work, but make sure that I scratch the name of the tablets I’m taking on the container, to ensure that no one would read and start researching and know that I am on ARV’s. By disclosing I got the freedom I deserved and I can never look back. I’ve achieved so many things in disclosing through writing the book, I’ve turned my mess to a message. Being able to counsel people and giving them hope in a hopeless situation is the best thing I do every day of my life. Who would have known?
In general, getting into a relationship as an HIV infected being is a challenge, because of the stigma. One has a fear of being rejected by men, and men in general do not want to use a condom. Well I find this a lot with men from my generation. As ladies from time to time, we fall for that for the same reason of not wanting to lose the man, not realising the risk involved. Knowing what I know today, let him go. Always remember, it’s all in your hands. However, I always say the right thing to do is to disclose before you get close to someone, and leave with the consequence of losing him or her. Also, we that are living with HIV, we turn to undermine what we are and what our purpose in this life is, we go on searching for partners are also infected, in-order to gain comfort and I can tell you that you can still get someone who is negative while you are positive and they would not have an issue with your status.
When I came out of hospital in 2008, I was put on ARV’s and TB treatment and I struggled a lot with the ARV’s due to the side effects. I lost hope as I became even sicker as my body was rejecting the pills. After almost a month, my body accepted the medication and I became normal again.
I had so much faith in God, and I was so determined that I would stop the pills in the process. I decided to visit a powerful Pastor in Nigeria who is known to heal HIV. One of the requirements before you visit was to bring all your medical records. I remember walking into my doctors rooms for check-up and requesting copies of my medical records. The sister that was attending to me said, “I hope when you come back from Nigeria, you will not stop taking your pills, like some people do”. In short, I went to Nigeria and while there, I stopped taking my pills, and thought that I will receive my healing and a negative status. My Nigerian brother let me down! Came back and defaulted. Little did I know that my health was deteriorating as a result of me defaulting. I went back for another check-up and my results were not good. This experience taught me that as much as we call ourselves Christians, we do not have the same level of faith which Jesus had. The bible says, faith without works is a dead one. By taking your medication, it does not make you less Christian. We have lost a lot of people in the “Christiandom”, who had and still have the same belief and they die premature as a result. In summary, I ended up taking my medication and managed to pull through and achieve a CD4 Cell count of "942" within two years of taking my medication, having survived a CD4 of four. .
HIV to me is a manageable disease, unlike the other diseases, at the same time it is a killer to the ignorant. Ignorance is no longer bliss. I believe it as choice in our days to die of HIV/AIDS. If I managed to pull through from a CD cell count of four so can you. The infected turn to relax as long as they still look okay health wise, yet not careful enough to know what is happening on the inside. In our days at least we do have knowledge of what HIV is, how to manage it and live longer. If I knew, before 2008 when I got sick what I know now, I would not have been on a sick bed. HIV has taught me how to reach out to people that need help. Doing motivational talks on HIV has taught me self-confidence
By taking my ARV's, vitamins, faith in God and striving to eat healthy. I do regular check-ups, so I track the virus and manage it. A positive mind set conquers all. I have seen people taking ARV’s but struggling accepting and failing themselves. Acceptance might be your biggest healer.
I have tried all in as far as getting a cure, Sangoma’s, well known Bishops and men of God, herbal treatments, but none have worked. And because there is no cure yet, one day I decided that I will put my trust in God and take my ARV’s, until a cure is found and have no regrets so far.I had been wounded by HIV in the past, but have used that SCAR of HIV to sharpen my pen to write a book, to make a difference in my community