HIV/AIDS activist Ntimbwe Mpamba discusses mandatory HIV testing among other topics
Ntimbwe Mpamba is an HIV/AIDS activist who has lived with the virus for 34 years. He was born with HIV but was only diagnosed in 2005. (Read more Ntimbwe’s story HERE). He publicly disclosed his status in 2010.
“I first disclosed my status publicly whilst I was attending a group session which had more 100 attendants. I was asked to set the record straight of “Always being the ever happy and joyful young man”. Standing in front of 100+people with all eyes and ears on me was scary because I felt like a thief standing on trial for a crime.
After learning more about the HIV virus and how it works, I got to understand the value of one day and what it meant to live a life on borrowed time. My eyes, mind, body and soul had to learn how to utilize each day as though it was the last day on earth. That has opened my life to a point where I always enjoy sharing my HIV remarkable story wherever and whenever I get the opportunity to do so.”
What made you want to become an AIDS activist?
“ From the time I was diagnosed in 2005 having to go through challenges and hurdles that were so severe that nearly took to the grave, made realize that my reason for being alive was bigger than myself. When I sat and thought hard about how and why I was still alive, it made me want to stand up for those that needed a leader or a soldier who would tell the story of hope and assurance because he was living proof of the story that he got to tell and is telling even until today. The message I forever spread is that the HIV Virus is not a death sentence and is manageable because I am living of that and still going at 34 years and still as healthy as an OX”
Zambia recently introduced mandatory HIV testing in all health centers in response to Government’s aim of ending HIV by 2030. President Lungu made the landmark announcement at the inaugural HIV Testing Counseling and Treatment Day commemoration under the theme “Test and Treat: Towards Ending AIDS”
“Honestly, I was excited on the move done by the Zambian Government. I am 100% behind the idea. Someone once told me that “what I didn’t know wouldn’t kill me”. After finding out that I was born with HIV, it made me understand that what you do not know WILL indeed kill you! Knowing your status is not crime and living with HIV is not a jail sentence. Here I am at 34 years approaching 35 and believe me I am living a great life. Zambia has managed to curb the malaria through mandatory testing so why not HIV?”
Stigmatization of people living with HIV is still a big problem in Zambia, which prevents people from sharing their HIV status with their partners.
“Stigma is something that I cannot shy away from, I went through it first hand and the only way I had to rise above it was to understand the fact I had to stand up and accept my status and believe that I had a reason to live. I understood that I would have to deal with the HIV virus on a daily-basis and stigma would become something irrelevant knowing that that I had bigger things to deal with than receiving negative vibes from those who saw my HIV status as taboo or a death sentence.”
Ntimbwe was asked what he sees as crucial to overcoming HIV/AIDS in the future and if it possible to get to zero new infections in Africa?
“There are millions of people living with HIV and most of them lack the proper knowledge of HIV and the treatment, thus, tend to live with the DDS Syndrome (DISCLOSURE, DENIAL and STIGMA syndrome) which affects the majority of those living with HIV.
Those living with HIV in whichever sector of life should realize that being HIV positive doesn’t end or begin with them but they are a generation that has to create better life for the upcoming generation. The ARV’s only responds to the HIV and have no ties with the immune system. Healthy food, exercise and positive attitude towards life are what build the immune system. Most are given the medication and given instructions on how to take them and are told that ARVs are given to do one job, that is to stop the HIV cells from multiplying or duplicating themselves hence stopping it from inviting optimistic diseases.
Possibility of Zero new infections in Africa will only be made possible if all the Stakeholders came together and realized that HEALTH SHOULD COME BEFORE WEALTH. More effort is needed by the infected and the affected in order to achieve the HIV free generation goal that has been set.”
Ntimbwe concluded by saying that he would love to encourage others not to spend their time trying to live someone else’s dream but to focus on their own.He went on to add that most say that the sky is the limit but in actual sense, it is only beginning. “If one man could step foot on the moon, who are you not to do the same?”
“I have shared my story on various platforms; radio, television, magazines, newspapers, social media etc., however, I can do a lot more. People always want to see the evidence of what they have been told, have read and heard respectively. As the saying goes ‘seeing is believing’.
I have always dreamt of working with an organization that would assist me and allow me to achieve more in telling my remarkable HIV story and leaving a legacy that change many lives and assist in overcoming the stigma that affects many.”
Interact with Ntimbwe on social media:
Facebook: Ntimbwe Mpamba