For the past five months, Zamekile Ngcemu has been fighting for her life in HACT’s Respite Unit. The 48 year-old mother of two who hails from Kwadengezi was suffering from advanced stages of AIDS and TB having defaulted on her antiretroviral treatment (ART).
“The doctor at the clinic told me I was going to die” says Zamekile “I was so scared and so weak, I had no power left in my body…” Thankfully, Zamekile was admitted just in time. Her recovery has been remarkable and she is now unrecognisable from the frail and emaciated figure that was carried into the Unit back in July. “The nurses here have been very good to me” says Zamekile with a broad smile, “They have cared for me like their own family and have taught me how to take my pills every day.”
With this year’s World AIDS Day theme focussing on building resiliency and widening the impact of community-based HIV prevention and education efforts, poor adherence to ART continues to be one of the biggest challenges HACT and others within the sector are grappling with on a daily basis as HACT’s CEO, Candace Davidson explains;
“Despite South Africa having the largest antiretroviral treatment programme in the world, we still face major challenges in getting people to understand the importance of staying on their treatment and or taking it correctly which of course is compounded by the daily issues of poverty, unemployment, gender-based violence and now the socio-economic upheaval caused by COVID-19. This in turn is leading to increasingly high levels of drug resistance and a failure to achieve viral suppression, which is a crucial component in itself to halting new HIV infections.”
Having recently had a second chance at life and much time for personal reflection, Zamekile has her own heartfelt message to share; “I would like to tell people that it is up to you to make the right choices in your life, don’t wait for someone to do it for you. Love yourself, respect your body, take your medicine if you are sick and never give up hope!”
For the past 30 years, HACT has been saving and transforming lives through its holistic and practical projects and services. Every year, over 200 children and adults suffering from advanced stages of AIDS or terminal cancer receive free respite or palliative care and treatment in the organisation’s 24-bed Respite Unit which is entirely reliant on the goodwill of the public to keep its doors open.
Join HACT’s Hope Club with a donation of just R50 per month and help our team give more patients like Zamekile a second chance at life in 2021 and beyond. Sign up today here: https://www.hillaids.org.za/support-us/hope-club/ or contact the Centre’s Marketing & Fundraising Manager, Claire Hodgkinson at firstname.lastname@example.org / 031 765 5866 for more details.