Nozibele Qamngana-Mayaba never really set out to be a children’s book author — or an HIV advocate for that matter. But sometimes destiny has other ideas. The 30-year-old from Johannesburg, South Africa, discovered she was living with HIV in 2013 after nonchalantly taking a routine test at a Wellness Day event at her work. Qamngana-Mayaba says she was in complete shock when the test came back positive since she had only had one sexual partner at that time in her life.
Fortunately today, after some difficult years of heartache and healing, Qamngana-Mayaba is a happily married woman and successful self-published author, and has reached over 100,000 subscribers on YouTube. She was first inspired to write her children’s book, I Am Still Zuri, after her young niece had seen her taking her HIV medicine. The book is her attempt to answer such questions for young people in a destigmatizing way.
Qamngana-Mayaba says publishing this story was among her proudest accomplishments of this year. “This is a book based on a 7-year-old girl that was born with HIV. She courageously tells her story to bring more awareness about HIV.”
“When I came out with my story, I didn’t necessarily set out to be a leader among people living with HIV,” she continues. “But I wanted to represent people who could not speak for themselves. People who are still in denial about their statuses. People who have been rejected by their partners after disclosing their HIV statuses. I wanted them to see themselves in me. If that makes me a leader, it’s an honor.
“All I do is to tell my story, with the hope that someone out there resonates with it and finds parts of themselves within it,” adds Qamngana-Mayaba. “I look at this list and I see so many people that I’ve come to admire on this journey, and to be included with them is a privilege.”