‘Isidingo’ Star Reveals HIV Status


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ROLE MODEL: Letti (Lesego Motsepe), of Isidingo.

IT TOOK 13 years to get to the point where she felt confident enough to reveal her HIV-positive status.

Actress Lesego Motsepe, who is best known as Letti in Isidingo, made the announcement yesterday on Kaya FM.

Motsepe was talking to their breakfast show host, Bob Mabena, as part of an awareness-raising initiative for World Aids Day.

The actress is part of a non-profit organisation, Afrikarize, which is creating new conversations on HIV/Aids as well as tackling socio-economic challenges facing the youth.

Motsepe, who played the character Letti between 1998 and 2008, said that when she found out she was HIV-positive 13 years ago, she wasn’t really shocked. This was because she had been working as an Aids ambassador for years, using puppets to teach children about the virus.

Suddenly, all the things she had been talking about became relevant in her own life.

Nevertheless, the news was life-changing.

“I went through many phases: denial, resentment, rejection and anger,” Motsepe said. “But the most important thing is that I am alive today.”

When people found out about her status, they “just hug me. They can hear in my voice I am not weak. But it has taken a lot of work, a lot of energy, to be where I am today,” Motsepe said.

She advised South Africans to know their status.

“If it’s positive, do something about it. Don’t dig your grave because you are still alive,” she said.

The actress said that she has been on antiretrovirals for just more than a year.

Recounting that her CD4 count was just 99 in October last year, she said she had been close to death’s door.

“For seven weeks, I was down. To be able to pick myself up from that and say I am going to live is something,” Motsepe said.

She said she had to be her own coach and change the way she lived. She had to stop drinking – she used to drink a lot of alcohol – and also has to watch her diet.

“It affects a lot. If I have a headache, I can’t take a headache pill. If my stomach is woozy, I can’t take anything. I can’t take anything that would interfere with the antiretrovirals,” she said.

“I decided that if I was going to live, I would not let this get me down. I don’t say I’m HIV-positive, I say HIV lives in my blood.”

She said it took 13 years to share with others that they, too, can do it.

“The human spirit is amazing,” said Motsepe.

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