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HIV Heroes

HIV Hero: One of South Africa's Leading HIV Activists 

HIV Hero: One of South Africa's Leading HIV Activists 

Mandisa Nikita Dukashe

Dukashe knows the work to battle HIV ignorance is still ongoing in South Africa, but she’s committed to the fight.

It’s impossible not to be inspired by Mandisa Nikita Dukashe. The South African nurse and health activist is a living example of what people with HIV can accomplish. Few could imagine that Dukashe, now the managing director of the HIV Survivors and Partners Network and co-founder of the U=U Africa Coalition, began her life impoverished and without the assistance of her parents, working long hours on a farm before she was even a teenager. Before she entered her 20s, she was diagnosed with HIV. She thought her life was over.

Raised by her grandmother, Dukashe found her own inner strength and persevered, getting on treatment and going into the health field. Dukashe’s career and her personal life inspired her growth as one of her nation’s most prominent HIV activists. Dukashe is South African’s unofficial spokesperson for U=U, or Undetectable = Untransmittable, knowing how the movement can battle stigma and end shame for people living with HIV. Dukashe knows the work to battle HIV ignorance is still in its early stages in South Africa, but she’s committed to the fight. To bolster her knowledge, Dukashe recently obtained her master’s degree in public health. Aside from her work, Dukashe also found personal fulfillment, marrying her love, something she never thought possible when she was diagnosed over 20 years ago. Dukashe recently chronicled that romance, and the challenges that preceded it, in her memoir, As I Rise Above. 

She hopes her story inspires “many discordant couples and [gives] hope to other women living with HIV that finding love is possible,” she says.

Learn more about Dukashe's story and others, in the newest episode of HIV Heroes.

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Neal Broverman

Editor

Ryan is the Digital Director of The Advocate Channel, and a graduate of NYU Tisch's Department of Dramatic Writing. She is also a member of GALECA, the LGBTQ+ society of entertainment critics. While her specialties are television writing and comedy, Ryan is a young member of the LGBTQ+ community passionate about politics and advocating for all.

Ryan is the Digital Director of The Advocate Channel, and a graduate of NYU Tisch's Department of Dramatic Writing. She is also a member of GALECA, the LGBTQ+ society of entertainment critics. While her specialties are television writing and comedy, Ryan is a young member of the LGBTQ+ community passionate about politics and advocating for all.