This is a high number and it is painful that some of those people got infected with HIV when they were raped. In other cases babies were born with HIV, something that is being successfully addressed through mother-to-child transmission prevention.
There should be no room for stigma, because not everyone who is HIV positive got it because they were promiscuous or never wore a condom.
We all know someone who is living with HIV/Aids. Some patients lose hope and give in to death.
But some HIV positive people take their anti-retroviral treatment and live a great life that does not give victory to the disease.
Such men, women and children are heroes in the fight against HIV.
Like any other disease such as cancer, the choice to continue living life after a positive HIV diagnosis is the patient’s, but family and the community must continue to support the sick.
Under the leadership of Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, HIV has become known as a disease that can be managed.
HIV-positive people are now living longer than they used to many years ago. It is all due to the fact that treatment is available to many people now and a lot of patients choose not to default on their medication.
Anyone who is afraid of people with HIV probably needs a little more education around the disease.
Those who knowingly discriminate against people living with the disease and look down on them must know that anyone can get HIV. Know about the disease, support and show empathy towards the sick.
The best way to guard yourself against the disease is to not have unprotected sex, and hope that you will not get infected through a blood transfusion.
The big message is that being told you have HIV is not the end of life anymore. I know so many people who are still alive and continue to live a healthy positive life.
No one knows what life holds; some get infected with HIV, others have cancer while other healthy people just die in their sleep.
All we can do is support the sick and make them aware that they will not walk alone.