a Review by Gontse Seakamela
The title alone piqued my interest, as HIV is seldom referred to in a positive sense, except when the test results are reported as “positive.” As a result, I was eager to delve deeper and discover this virus’s positive impact.
As we have all learned, it is possible to live as long as the typical person with the correct mindset, good choices, treatment, and support. Loyiso Lindani, a Mdantsane local, was unafraid to share her personal healing experience in her book, How HIV Saved My Life. A simple to read, yet engrossing account on how she changed the script on how we all act out how life must be bleak after receiving a positive diagnosis.
However, even today, there are a lot of misconceptions about what it means to be living with HIV. Ultimately, everyone’s lives are different – how you cope with your diagnosis and how you move forward will be unique to you, and it was indeed unique for Loyiso.
The book begins with her mother’s death from HIV/AIDS-related illnesses when she was only 17 years old, telling of the times as compared to her mother’s experience, which was characterized by stigma, hiding, lack of knowledge, poor access to ARVS, and so on. She now knows that HIV does not have to prevent you from living a happy, healthy, and long fulfilling life. Her beautiful dedication of her grandmother, Mhamha, is so well noted and received. Mhamha, like many township and rural grandparents, often takes care of the children while their parents work in distant areas or have passed away. To me, Mhamha was the first hand that touched her to the positive and hopeful being she is today.
Loyiso was diagnosed with HIV when pregnant with her son in 2006. She, like many others, self-doomed and assumed she would die within a few months. Could anyone blame her when her mother died from ailments caused by this virus? She has also experienced it all like her mother, including many hospital visits, inquisitive eyes, and stigma from family, friends, and the community.
She, like many others, needed to numb the stress, and perhaps even numb her own existence. She used booze and partying as a coping technique because she had not received any type of counseling and felt she was in it alone. Another dooming companion known as poor self-esteem added gasoline to the fire, and she was trapped in a vicious cycle for years, with no support system or any way out.
This vicious loop also featured the misogyny, abuse, and inconsiderate nature of some, or should I say most, of our society’s men. Being taken advantage of by married sugar daddies, as well as the typical rejection felt by many women when they tell their partners they are pregnant, as if they were having sex with themselves. Did I mention University drop-out, dating taxi drivers, being in abusive relationships that nearly left her for dead, rape, low self-esteem, survival, falling and failing, anxiety, depression, moving cities, jobs, writing, producing stories: all while living with HIV?
Surviving profound and terrible loss, overcoming poverty and unfairness, overcoming heartache, navigating family dynamics; all in a society that we all know is not always fair. I’m sure we can all identify with her experiences. This is a book about more than just HIV; it’s about survival, growth, and success. How Loyiso picked up the pieces, build her strength and used it all to help others in the face of her diagnosis.
Like the famous social media memes of “how it started” versus “how it is going,” Loyiso has transformed her life into a lively and inspiring one – you’ll have to read the pages to find out how she achieved it in detail, not easy but yet fulfilling process that is unique to her journey but relevant to ours. She tells her tale candidly and bravely, and she uses her experiences to give many others hope and an awareness that HIV is not the end, but rather a part of the journey.
As cliché as it may sound, turning the pages of this book reaffirmed the idea that one must have the guts to pick themselves up and keep going; you are your own savior, and no matter the obstacle, you can overcome it with the appropriate mindset and attitude.
No matter what happens in life, always remember to choose living… the rest will come to pass!!
The book is available at www.balakudu.com as well as Game and Makro stores.