“Our HIV-status does not determine the love that we have for each other,” says 22-year-old HIV-positive Thapelo Majoro. Majoro is the Managing Director (MD) for the Barefoot Walking Campaign and is enrolled in a multimedia and software engineering programme at the Limkokwing University of Creative Technology.
Majoro and his girlfriend are both infected with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and over time, the infection causes the Acquired ImmunoDeficiency Syndrome (AIDS). No medical cure has been found to date for AIDS, which is a condition in which progressive failure of the immune system allows life-threatening opportunist infections to thrive.
Yet the love they have for each other remains so strong the young couple believes their HIV-status cannot overshadow it.
The power-couple met at Baylor College of Medicines Foundation Lesotho where they are both in support group programmes.
Majoro does not want to have children of his own but would like to adopt from any of the local orphanages.
“I lived in an orphanage when I was five years old after the death of my mother and that made me realise that there are many kids out there who would like to live in a family rather than in an orphanage,” Majoro says.
Narrating his emotive life-story to the MNN Centre for Investigative Journalism (Centre), Majoro said he only knew that he was living with HIV at the age of eight when he was tested for the virus at Baylor College of Medicines Foundation Lesotho.
“I only went to Baylor because I had patches all over my body and also had a bad cough. That’s how I ended up being tested only to be told that I was HIV-positive.
“That was in 2008 and the following year, I started taking my treatment and I have never felt like stopping taking my medication ever since,” he said.
Majoro says he is living a normal life just like people who are HIV-negative.
“Being HIV-positive, to me, is just a status because I still do things that other young people do,” he says.
However, after testing positive, Majoro says it never made sense to him what it really meant until he joined some programmes at Baylor that taught him everything about his status.
“If it wasn’t for those programmes, maybe I would not be where I am today. The knowledge I now have gives me power to overcome some of the challenges I face,” he narrated.
“I remember one time I was with my tertiary friends and they were saying nasty things about people who were HIV-positive. But I chipped in and asked them to stop saying such things because they were not true. That’s when I also revealed to them about my status, but not all of them believed what I was saying. They never believed I was HIV-positive but others did.”
The 22-year-old also said some people mistakenly believe they could spot anyone who is HIV-positive.
Meanwhile, Majoro says he is very proud of the Barefoot Walking Campaign which he insists is one of the results of the confidence he has since gained as an HIV-positive person.
Majoro further explained his education remained very important to him as it would help him nuild a better future for himself and his loved ones.
“My status does not affect my education. I see a bright future ahead of me as I would like to continue my studies after graduating,” Majoro says.
He further says his status has taught him many things which include taking care of others, loving wholeheartedly and most importantly, to thank God for the challenges he has come across as well as the blessings he receives every single day.
“If there was anything I wanted to be changed in my life, my HIV-status was not going to be one of them because I have learned that my status has somehow helped me shape my future,” Majoro said.
Majoro has a dream that one day, Lesotho would not be counted among the countries with a very high HIV/AIDS prevalence rate. He proudly declares: “HIV: It ends with me.
“I believe the next generation, after ours, should be an HIV/AIDS-free generation.”
He also encouraged the youth to know their HIV-status in order to take the necessary measures to manage it.
Majoro also says in telling his HIV/AIDS story, he hopes more youths would come forward and tell their own stories in an effort to eliminate new infections.
According to the 2016 Demographic Health Survey, 25-percent of adults between the ages of 15 and 49 years in Lesotho are infected with HIV.
The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Three shows that AIDS is still a leading cause of death among the youth in the sub-Saharan countries.
The Sustainable Development Goals are 17 global goals set by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015 for the year 2030. Number three of the SDGs is about good health and wellbeing.