She is strong. She is beautiful. She is empowered. She is a Social Activist. She is educated. She has influence. She is a woman, a wife, and a mother.
South African Vuyiseka Dubula is determined to make a difference. She is resolute and unwavering in her belief that adverse circumstances will not stand in the way of her living a fulfilled life. Vuyiseka is the HIV Positive woman who reinforces the truth that what doesn’t kill you will make you stronger.
Fear and discrimination are the most basic reactions to an encounter with a person living with HIV; at least in the part of Africa I come from, but Vuyiseka makes you want to be strong and bold and positive and fearless. Her life is a story of hopelessness translated to hope, not just for herself but others; men and women alike.
Impecunious from the get go, Vuyiseka did not have an education; Parents struggled to fend for the family on daily wages from informal jobs. Life was unpleasant and didn’t get any better after she left home for a better life and an education in the city; she lived in a shack in Phillipi, on the outskirts of Cape Town and in 2001 at the age of 22, she was diagnosed as HIV positive.
Culled from positiveheroes.co.za, Vuyiseka describes the trauma of discovery;
“It was unfortunate that this happened at the time when treatment was a dream for a poor Philippic girl because I relied on my small nutrition booklet as my guide to Positive living… I then decided, I’m going to start a new life; a life of internal isolation, guilt and some denial.”
Well, aren’t we glad to know that the story didn’t end there? Vuyiseka joined the Treatment Action Campaign [TAC], one of South Africa’s most powerful HIV/AIDS lobby and the advocate for the Government’s Voluntary Counselling and Testing Program that supplies antiretroviral (ARV) drugs in the treatment of HIV/AIDS through the public health system.
In 2002, Vuyiseka began working as a TAC Treatment Literacy Coordinator in the Western Cape and became its General Secretary in 2008. She also worked for Medicines Sans Frontiers as a Community Mobilisation Officer responsible for setting up adherence clubs for stable clients of antiretroviral treatment. She is a National Representative of people living with HIV in the South African National AIDS Council and also serves as the Chairperson on the Board of Directors in the AIDS Law Project. She is a Speaker at Tedx and other Conferences and symposiums all over the world.
In the intervening years, Vuyiseka enrolled at the University of South Africa to undertake a Bachelor of Arts in Social Services and Health Sciences, and a post-graduate in Economic and HIV Management at the University of Stellenbosch.
Vuyiseka Dubula confronts issues of gender equality, sexual abuse and HIV with such clarity and independence of thought that it leaves you speechless, especially when considering her history and upbringing. She is regarded as a pioneer in her community, a voice for women in her nation. She speaks boldly on behalf of impoverished and violated women affected by and infected with HIV/AIDS. [Sagoodnews.co.za]
Vuyiseka lives with her daughter and husband in Philippi, Cape Town; they are both HIV Negative.