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POSITIVE LIVING FROM BIRTH

Keletso Thobega

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Tlotlo Lillian Moilwa is a 20-year old HIV/AIDS activist who has not allowed her status to define her. Moilwa advocates for young people living with HIV, and uses her own story in her activism.

During World AIDS Day commemorations in Mochudi in December, she delivered a moving speech that touched many including President Dr. Mokgweetsi Masisi and First Lady Neo Masisi.
They were seemingly touched by the young woman’s boldness and bravery and extended their support to her.

Moilwa is among thousands of young Batswana born between 1988 and 1998 who were born HIV positive. This is largely because during that period HIV was still new and there was more misinformation and programmes such as PMTCT, that stop HIV transmission of HIV from mother to child had not yet been rolled out.

The pretty and bubbly Moilwa, a student at Limkokwing University of Creative Technology lost her mother and father when she was six and eight years old respectively. At the time, little did she know what was really going on. It was only at ten years old that she realised what exactly was going on and her health status.

“One day I went through my medical records only to find ‘HIV transmitted from mother to child’ on it,” she recalls. She however says that she did not struggle to come to terms with her status.
“I did not imagine that I could be dying. I was fit and healthy and not on medication because I had kept my CD4 constant and viral load low. It was only when I was 16 that I went for tests and they indeed came back positive.

“My CD4 was at 306 and that is when I started taking medication,” she says. It was around this time that she reached out to other young people living with the virus. “I met a group of young people living with HIV and that is when I realised that many people are failing to accept their HIV status. I decided to come out with my status as a way of helping others accept their status,” she says.

She knew that there were possibilities of facing stigma so she prepared herself psychologically. “This made it easy for me to deal with stigma when I came across it.” One of the challenges she faced was at school because she had to regularly see a doctor and on her return she would have to explain to her teachers where she had been.

“It was difficult because at the time I was not ready to open up about my status.” Disclosing therefore helped her as she grew up and she did not need to constantly explain herself. Although she has come across discrimination and stigma, it did not hit her hard because she realised early that the more one openly speaks about an issue the more people accept it and get used to it.

The activist says that developments in HIV/AIDS treatment such as PrEP and U=U (Undetectable=Untransmittable) are applaudable and can improve the lives of many people. She however notes that it is still equally important to be informed.

Moilwa urges everyone who is HIV positive to get rid of the mindset that HIV/AIDS kills. “Anyone who is HIV positive can lead a long and fruitful life if they adhere to their medication. “I am proud to say that I am HIV positive and living my best life. To those who are negative, I say, keep it that way; abstain or condomise.”

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FREE AT LAST: LGBTI persons celebrate

Yvonne Mooka

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CELEBRATION TIME: The LGBT community celebrated the historic ruling on same sex romance this Tuesday

Thapelo Matshameko, a transgender woman who last year was attacked at Trekkers night club in Gaborone is over the moon about the High Court ruling that overturned a law that criminalised same sex relations.

A trans-woman is a woman who was assigned male at birth. In response to the ruling, she told The Midweek Sun that even though she has had it tough before with people calling her ‘Brazen’ and to stop behaving like a woman, she is now happy that the law recognises that they exist. She said that Batswana are now becoming tolerant towards Lesbians Gays Bisexual Transgender and Intersex persons.

“Recently I went out for dinner with my bae, and I came all the way from my house wearing a dress. People that know me loved it and my boyfriend loved it even more,” she says, adding that the verdict will also help other LGBTI persons that are in the closet to come out.

In a previous interview Metshameko pleaded for assistance from members of the public to help her do a surgery that would make her a complete woman. For Motswakgakala Sithole also known as Motswafere in music circles, the ruling shows that Botswana is one step closer to gay marriages.

“Thank you to all the visible gay people. We take punches for those hiding and those shaming us for being visible and exercising our rights. You guys attended court cases with pride and you have carried us to freedom,” he said.

He also thanked Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana (LEGABIBO), lawyers in the case, the media, and friends of the LGBTI community for their support. Phio Kenosi who identifies as trans non-binary asexual woma-romantic, (romantically attracted to the feminine essence), was also ecstatic.

“It is obviously showing that we are moving in a new direction that is positive and inclusive towards sexual and gender minority,” he said.

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Wame – a little einstein in the making

Irene Shone

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LITTLE EISTEIN: Wame Kangumbe

Wame Petit Kangumbe, 12, is an Optometrist in the making.

Kangumbe envisions taking Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) to the next level by inventing something scientific in the future.The standard 7 pupil at Ratsie Setlhako Primary School in Palapye impressed everyone during the BIUST 5th STEM Festival and Research and Innovation Symposium with her sharp answers during the fest.

The little Scientist believes that the entire country should embrace science and do more experiments, to find out more about our physical environment and shed dependency on foreign countries in terms of Science and Engineering.

Her secret to relating with different topics so well, is research and more research. “I like researching. We have Wi-Fi at home, and so I often use my mother’s phone to type different topics and interact with how everything is related. I always prepare for the next lesson through researching,” she said.

She said the poverty in Africa can only be eliminated through STEM. “If everyone could take interest in STEM, we would go further in terms of uplifting the status of our economies as African countries,” she said.

She urged her peers to believe in themselves and be serious about their education. “When you write down your notes in class, make an application of what you want out of them. Everyone’s life is in their own hands,” she advised.

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