HIV Is Not A Death Sentence! Rachel Nolan Tells Her Story

Knowing that you are HIV-positive can be one of the most devastating experiences one can go through in life. This does not have to stop you from living a happy, long and fulfilling life. With the right treatment and support from friends and family it is possible to live as long as the average person. Forget the misconceptions about what it means to be living with HIV and focus on how to cope with your diagnosis and moving forward. Nevertheless, everyone’s lives are unique and different.

You are about to read the story of a strong beautiful woman who has shared her journey with Exposé Magazine in the hope that someone out there will know they are not alone. This is her life, her story and Rachel Nolan is her name.

On Receiving the Diagnosis
I was diagnosed on the 6th of June 2002 and I still the remember the day the doctor told me I had a life expectancy of about 5 years before i reach the AIDS stage.

On Learning to Cope
At first I was devastated and I attempted suicide but with the love and support of my immediate family, I accepted my status. Even though I feel like giving up on some days, I promised myself that I will keep fighting. I try my best to stay strong because I know there are a lot of people going through exactly what I am going through but are ashamed or scared to speak out. It’s OK I am your voice! 15 years later I am still here, alive, healthy, beautiful, making new friends and taking my medication on time without skipping a day.

On Finding love
I have been hurt so many times and faced rejection once I told guys of my status, but I still believe in love and I am thankful for the gentleman in my life that loves me. He always says “Your HIV status does not change who you are, you are still Rachel and I love you for you”. He is very supportive, loving, romantic, understanding and even does research on HIV / Aids. I thank the Lord for him.

On Facing the Stigma
Sadly it is something I am still facing on a daily basis. I remember how my former friend threw away her coffee mug because I had drunk from it. Some of my friends stopped talking to me, whispering amongst themselves and some would not want their kids near me or to hug me. It has not been an easy journey but I have made it. I know my status and, do you know yours? I always ask this to my peers.

Rachel rewrote her story and today she lives her life knowing that HIV does not have to stand in the way of achieving her dreams. She still looks forward to buying her favourite perfume fragrance, get her driver’s licence and see her niece in her grade 1 uniform and take her son for a holiday in Cape Town. She says as long you are healthy, get out there and do what you want. Stop being a victim and become a victor!

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