Kgosi Mosielele of Moshupa says that the 55 year-old Leabaneng Masedi deserves a Presidential award.
Masedi has been living with HIV for nearly 23 years.
Kgosi Mosielele said Masedi has contributed a lot towards encouraging positive attitudes and minimizing societal stigma among the infected and affected.
According to Mosielele, Masedi who tested HIV positive in 1992 after undergoing a medical examination by the Botswana Red Cross Society (BRCS) and became one of the first to publicize her status against the odds, is leading an exceptionally healthy lifestyle.
Masedi said she remains positive in her outlook to life.
Speaking to The Telegraph she told of how hard it was back then for people who tested HIV positive: “The fact that sometime around September 2015, I will be commemorating 23 years of living positively with the virus makes me proud. When I tested HIV positive in 1992, it was not an easy road to travel during those years due to the stigma and other negative perceptions attached to it. What exacerbated the newly diagnosed’s dilemma was the absence of adequate HIV/AIDS counselors as the virus was still a new phenomenon on the health platform.
Due to this human resource shortage, religious pastors doubled up as counselors, however, dwelling more on the spiritual than the psycho-social dimension from the health implications.
“Braving for the worst, I accepted my status and picked-up my life from where I had left off, soldiered on and continued living happily,” said Masedi.
However, three years down the line, she went public as a way of educating fellow citizens directly or indirectly affected about best practices to minimize the risks.
Masedi said the ever increasing HIV incidence and prevalence rates pose enormous challenges for both the health delivery system and Batswana, especially those still living in denial.
“HIV is manageable if people practice sexual abstinence, use condoms during casual relationships and eat healthily.
“Although I have been married for 10 years, my husband is still HIV negative due to the safe approach. As a result, we are leading a harmonious marital life”, she said.
She appealed to the public that they should stop the tendency of stigmatising the disease and accept their status that will lead to good living.