Why attend the Positive Persons' Forum?

"Why attend? I can be myself, without being judged"

Lebo

The Positive Persons’ Forum is an annual event for people living with HIV in Scotland to come together, share the challenges they face and call for change.

Lebo Mohlakoana is part of the group of people living with HIV who organised the conference in 2013, 2014 and again for the next one in 2015. Here she tells her story, why the Forum is so valuable, and why everyone in Scotland with HIV should join future forums if they can:

“In 2008 when I was about 6 months pregnant I was diagnosed HIV positive. I was really scared.

“I remember the first thought that came to my mind was: I AM A WALKING GRAVE. I wanted to see my son graduate, but that seemed impossible. I really thought I was alone. Not only was I ashamed but I blamed myself.

“I managed to live through the pregnancy and gave birth to healthy handsome baby boy, a smile to any mother’s face. Then I met people who gave me hope and I thought: I’ll turn this sour lemon into lemonade. I started learning more about and through my studying met many remarkable people who have been living with HIV for years and it was a wakeup call for me. I realised: I can live, I can actually live to see my son graduate.

“Then in 2013 I got involved with the Positive Persons’ Forum. I was honoured to plan a conference for HIV positive people. I thought it would be easy, but it was about really switching off to the mixed world and focusing on the issues facing people with and affected by HIV. For me this meant facing my past, present and future, growing and knowing how to move on.

“On the day of the conference, nothing made me more happy that not having to whisper that “I am HIV positive can you help me with this issue”. Instead I could shout it out loud, and having someone to listen and have an answer made more of a difference than being anywhere else. We were all there, same concerns, same issues, same reaction to all our action and it all made sense!

"This forum is a day where I can be myself without fearing judgement because I know all my answers will be right. We’re all together in the true spirit of hope and CARRY ON!”