Monday, 15 September 2014

HIV Positive Youth Says Zambia Can Achieve Zero HIV Infection Rate

Benjamin Sakala
By Paul Shalala

39-year-old Benjamin Sakala who has been living with the HIV virus since 2007 has taken to social media to encourage other Zambians not to neglect themselves due to their HIV status.

Benjamin, a resident of Mazabuka says he has survived the past 7 years living a happy life without shame.

"I knew when i got the virus. I knew from who i got it and i have told myself not to worry because i cant change anything," said Benjamin.

One surprising thing about Benjamin is that he has not yet been put on Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) because his CD4 count is above 500.

"Doctors have been refusing to put me on ART because my immune system is still strong. I praise God that i have survived the seven years without taking medicines," he adds.

As can be seen on the Facebook screenshots on the right, Benjamin, a father of two, has now gone on social media to help other HIV positive people to accept their status and live good lives.

In several of his Facebook statuses, he advises people in relationships to be faithful to each other and stop the spread of the HIV virus.

He says it is possible for Zambia to reach the zero HIV infection rate if people are sincere to themselves and their partners in the fight against the virus.

On his Facebook page ( ), Benjamin is always posting statuses encouraging people to accept their HIV status and live positively.

Responses from his Facebook friends have been positive as most people who comment on his statuses describe him as a strong and proud man who is a fighter.

Other HIV positive people on Facebook have taken up Benjamin's initiative and some of them are now open about their status.

Benjamin now looks to the future with pride as he says he can not change his status but can only accept it, live positively and wait upon the Lord.

The use of social media for such issues is rare in Zambia as most people see it as a platform for malice and mudslinging.

But Benjamin's courage to reveal his HIV status on social media and encourage others to do the same is a rare occurrence in a country were stigma for people with HIV is rampant.

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