File Picture: Brendan Magaar/African News Agency (ANA)
File Picture: Brendan Magaar/African News Agency (ANA)

Being HIV positive and having Covid-19 is not final nail to your coffin, says survivor

By Chulumanco Mahamba Time of article published Aug 4, 2020

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A Covid-19 survivor living with HIV says that taking her treatment helped her survive the virus.

The Mthatha coronavirus survivor, who asked to remain anonymous out of fear of victimisation, told The Star on Monday that she had been very scared after she tested positive for coronavirus on July 23.

The survivor was diagnosed with HIV in 2016.

“I kept hearing that people who have HIV were more at risk than others but I had spoken to my landlord who also had Covid-19 and HIV before me, and she said, ‘If you can survive the first three days after day four, you’ll be okay,'” she said.

Last month, a survey by the World Health Organization (WHO) revealed that South Africa was one of 73 countries that were at a risk of stock shortages for life-saving antiretrovirals for people living with HIV.

The survey pointed out that while countries had been fighting Covid-19, they had neglected other health-care areas such as HIV/Aids, hepatitis and sexually transmitted infections.

South Africa has had a disruption in its supply of ARVs, according to the survey.

The survivor said that she was tested at the same clinic she received her antiretrovirals so her HIV treatment was uninterrupted.

“People keep thinking that if you have HIV and test positive for coronavirus, the virus will finish you off, but the catch is how you take your treatment. You need to start by taking your treatment properly and taking care of yourself,” she said.

The 34-year-old added that she was fortunate that she only had mild symptoms from the virus including chest pains, coughing and migraines. She believes this was due to the fact that her viral load was undetectable because she regularly took her HIV treatment.

“From my experience, being HIV-positive and having coronavirus isn’t as scary as people think because I felt like someone who wasn’t positive when I had Covid-19,” she said.

While self-isolating in her small flat in the Eastern Cape, the survivor established a routine for herself.

“My routine was waking up, drinking a cup of hot water and then steaming with eucalyptus oil. Once I steamed, I would wash and then eat and drink my HIV treatment, vitamins and immune-system-boosting medication,” she said.

She added that during the day she would eat many fruits and vegetables and stay hydrated and warm.

The survivor, who lives in a small township, said she had to be extra cautious about keeping her hands clean and sanitising because she used a communal toilet and tap.

“When I went to the tap or toilet I would carry hand sanitiser with me and sanitise the tap and toilet door before and after I used them,” she said.

She added that a Covid-19 support group on Facebook and her family, friends and colleagues were the driving force for her positivity while she was self-isolating.

The survivor advised other coronavirus patients living with HIV to not see the virus as the final nail in their coffins.

“Covid-19 is curable. It won’t stay in your body to the point where you think ‘I’m positive for both, I will die'. There is nothing serious if you know you took care of yourself even before the pandemic,” she said. @Chulu_M

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