The ebony beauty, Saidi Brown from South Africa says she is not allowing her HIV+ status limit her from living life. At 14 years old, this was a bitter pill to swallow for Saidy Brown, but today she cherishes the day she found out.
Almost eight years later, Brown has turned it into a positive story and she intends to use it to help others change their attitude towards HIV.
“Yes, I am HIV positive but don’t call me a victim. I am a victor. I don’t view it as a sickness … it is just something that’s is in my blood and manageable.”
With her trademark smile, she said she would never forget the day it all started.
“I was born HIV positive, but I never knew until that day when I went out on a school trip to a Youth Day event in Lichtenburg, North West,” she said.
While at the event Brown, who is from Itsoseng township, and her friends decided to get tested. For young girls who had not been sexually active, they were all confident of the results. One at a time, they came out with bright smiles painted on their faces.
Minutes later, Brown emerged desolate from one of the small tents where she had just tested. She took lazy steps towards her friends and with a depressed face and let out a bolt from the blue.
“I’m HIV positive,” she said.
In seconds, she observed jaws dropping. Her friends were dumbstruck.
“Relax you guys, I am kidding. I am HIV negative,” she said, and that led to a instant change of mood .
Brown recalled joining her friends who were jumping around ecstatically in celebration of the negative status when she had absolutely nothing to celebrate. All she had were so many questions raging through her thoughts with no answers.
“I thought it was all over for me. My understanding of HIV was that once it’s diagnosed, you get sick and die … I went home and waited for it,” she said.
Seven years later, she posted a tweet that earned her instant attention worldwide: “When I found out at 14 that I was HIV positive, I did not think I would live to see 18; I am turning 22 this year.”
“I am here today because I decided to take control of my life and not allow the virus to dictate over me.”
Brown said, because she needed a distraction, she joined a drama group.
Later in the year as World Aids Day approached she took part in a play about HIV, and decided to disclose her status to her aunt. But her aunt wasn’t shocked. She said it was possible because both Brown’s parents, who are dead, were HIV positive.