Zim on track to eliminate HIV by 2030

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Credit- Daphne Machiri
  • Kensington Marufu tested HIV positive in 2000
  • Target to eliminate HIV by 2030 was achievable

By Conrad Mwanawashe

YOUNG lawyer and author, Kensington Marufu, is an epitome of hope, an overcomer of adversaries and stereotypes especially after testing positive for HIV at 10.

Now 30, Marufu remains focussed on his future and hopes to start a family one day.

“I’ve never known what it’s like to be HIV negative. So, I can’t be compared with anyone,” said Marufu.

He was addressing journalists during a two-day National Aids Council (NAC) and Media workshop in Chinhoyi recently.

“After we tested HIV positive in 2000, the doctor told us that we were going to die. Yes, he said exactly that. He actually used the word ‘die’ because back then there were no ARVs, there was no medication. I remember there were times that that we took cotrimoxazole and amoxicillin. I knew most of those drugs when I was in Grade 5, as if I was a nurse or someone in the medical field.

“I was just a good kid,” said Marufu, adding that he wants “people to see what God can do to change a life”.

While the doctor’s words about death still lingered in his mind, stereotypes and isolation became part of his life and it got worse when his elder brother died in 2003, followed by his mother in 2004 and his father in 2006, the year he sat for his ‘O’ Level examinations.

The death of his parents and brother and his health condition had a negative effect on his performance and he passed only one subject, English language.

“For me that was the beginning of chaos in my life. It was better when I lived with my parents who cared for me and understood me but now, they were no more. Most of the people who lived with me thought that I was going to die. I was called many names such as, “Go slow” because I had a tiny body. When I played soccer with my friends, they would not allocate me a team. That’s the only life I’ve known,” said Marufu.

“I’m me and I’m proud of who I am,” he added.

Marufu’s testimony is proof that living with HIV is not the end of life.

“It’s testimony that humanity is important and it’s a testimony that we have to be positive with our life,” said Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Dr Jenfan Muswere.

Zimbabwe, among other countries globally, has recorded huge milestones against the HIV pandemic, with new HIV infections and Aids-related deaths continuing to go down.

NAC chief executive officer, Dr Bernard Madzima, said the target to eliminate HIV by 2030 was achievable.

“We have achieved a lot in our HIV interventions and we are certain that we will eliminate HIV and AIDS by 2030,” said Dr Madzima adding that the media is a key stakeholder towards achieving that goal.

Marufu handed Minister Muswere his new book titled: “Touched by Grace”, which is a personal account of his experiences as a person living with HIV.

“I wrote the book about my life and HIV because I understand that there’s another Kensington out there. I’m not alone, there’s a Kensington out there going through the same challenges but does not have role models. Most of the people like Kensington are in hiding, they’ll never expose themselves. Maybe one day that Kensington will read the story of Kensington and appreciate that life can change,” said Marufu.

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