by Jerrilyn Jacobs
"People should know that HIV/AIDS is not the end of the world; they can still make a difference if they seek counseling."
Growing up in South Africa, Florence Ngobeni had to struggle and fight every day just to survive. When she was in her twenties and had her second child, she learned how much greater her life’s struggle was going to be.
|Florence Ngobeni wants the South African Government to actively fight back the AIDS epidemic.
Ngobeni found out she had become HIV positive from her husband and, to her horror, had passed it on to her child, who contracted AIDS. Ngobeni's in-laws, blaming her, took the baby and refused to let Florence see her. When the baby died of AIDS, Ngobeni decided she would do everything in her power to help others avoid the misery and death caused by AIDS.
Even though most of the world’s AIDS cases (estimated at 4.2 million) are in sub-Saharan Africa, the disease is not a subject that people there talk about. Ngobeni bravely decided she would tell her story and counsel other HIV-positive people. Her dedication to educating people about how HIV is transmitted has brought her in conflict with the South African government, led by Thabo Mbeki. Mbeki won’t join with medical experts to agree that AIDS is caused by HIV, nor will he work towards getting anti-viral medicine to the infected.
|International Planned Parenthood Federation HIV/AIDS Ambassador Florence Ngobeni with George Foulkes, Under Secretary of State, United Kingdom Department for International Development.
Florence joined with other activists in March 2000 to bring attention to how the majority of AIDS cases in South Africa go untreated, while in wealthier countries, people survive with anti-viral drugs. How could they get medicine for their nation's people?
When Colin Powell, newly appointed Secretary of State in America, arrived for a tour through South Africa, he spoke with Florence Ngobeni and praised her dedicated work. Florence regretted that Powell hadn’t brought any medicines with him, but appreciated him as a role model for African men.
Through her tireless efforts to educate and counsel her compatriots with HIV/AIDS, Florence Ngobeni is making a difference one life at a time. She vows to get the government to address the problem more actively. In her role as HIV/AIDS Ambassador for the International Planned Parenthood Federation, she is reaching out to the global community for support and aid.
- An Independent News Briefing About the United Nations.
World AIDS Day
- was created as a way to educate the public about the facts of AIDS. It is a day to make a difference by sharing information about the signs, the risks, the treatment and the stories of those who have faced AIDS in their lives.