Senzo Nkomo

Senzo found out he was living with HIV at the age of 5.
Scared and confused at first, but as he grew up he had to take charge of his life, prioritise everything positive.

Senzo Nkomo

Senzo Nkomo, born in Mpumalanga on the month of love, February in 1996. I’m middle child of three children. Our mother passed away in 2005 from a sudden illness, the death of my mom was painful, it left in an uncertain position, and we were orphans. My dad was shot in 1995 two months before I was born. Losing a mother’s love and care was very difficult, but I did not put that in mind as I believed that God will heal my wounds.

Growing up as child I was fanatic soccer player, a gift I was given by the man upstairs to help me cope with everything that life was going to throw at me later. I’m generally a very positive person and I do not allow things to affect me negatively. It’s something I was taught by my grandmother and I guess it got sharpened over the years because of all the things I’ve been through.

My HIV Journey

When I was 10 years old I got a rash all over my body and I was starting to get sick regularly. I had moved in with my grandmother in Johannesburg after the death of my mom. The rash on my body quickly turned to bubbles that secreted liquids. My brother accompanied me to the clinic because these were starting to concern my grandma and me. I remember that day when I was at the clinic and the nurse called us into the room to check what was concerning my health. We did not spend more than an hour at that clinic, the sister told my brother to call an elderly person so that she can approve some tests, an HIV test to be specific. That time I was nervous, freaked with the thought of being shoved with needles. But it wasn’t that bad, and soon the nurse was done with the test and she told us to wait for 10 minutes for the results.

Disaster came, I was told I was HIV positive and I was going to be married to ARV’s for the rest of my life. In that moment we could not hold our tears, they fell like a waterfall. We had seen people dying of HIV/AIDS in the township, icons like Nkosi Johnson and many other people on TV. But we never thought for a moment that someone in our family would die of HIV/AIDS.

Immediately I had to start treatment. I can’t remember what my CD4 count was or my viral load, but it was so bad that I had to start medication. I’m not ashamed to go to the clinic to get my medication because it keeps me alive. People will always talk about your situation to shy away from their own situations.

All my siblings were tested; no one else in my family was living with HIV, except me. This was strange since I was the middle of three children. This confused us until early this year, 2015; when my aunt told us the story of how I got infected. Apparently when I was about three years old, growing up in Mpumalanga, we found used injections and as kids we played with these injections and that how I got infected with HIV.

My Personal HIV Experience

The fact that I living with HIV was never a secret, grand Ma never hid it and she believed that I will live for a long time. She allowed me to live a normal life and be positive about it. She made me take in everything that was positive and pay no attention to what was negative. She made me play soccer like all the other kids in the neighbourhood. My HIV-success was fuelled by the fact that I played soccer like nobody business, I won medals and lot of trophies with the teams I was playing for. I was the captain for the under 13 and 15. Soccer helped to take my mind off of a lot thing and better cope with living with HIV and being an orphan. I did not let the stigma of the virus to make me idle, not capable to do whatever I wanted to do and cherish all the good things I had in life. And grandma did a really good job taking the role of a mother. Grand Ma made me realise that I was no different to every to everyone else in my neighbourhood. Because of her I have no regrets, no anger, in fact HIV and grandma motivated me to be a better person. Everyone has health problems, I just happen to be living HIV, I’m still me – HIV doesn’t make decisions for me, it doesn’t control or direct my life.

I grew up in a Christian home; I was always reminded that everything that happens is Gods’ will and he always has plans for us to prosper and not perish. God has kept this far, I would have died at the age of 5 if it wasn’t for Him. I did well at school, passed all my grades and last year in 2014, I passed matric. I would have loved to study Law, but I couldn’t get funding to further my studies and my grandmother is a pensioner so she also can’t help.

My Struggles

  1. Losing my mom and dad at a very young age, maybe I’d be an even better person if they were around to support me and love me, but I’m grateful for my family because they’ve been fantastic.
  2. At some point I struggled with drowning those pills every day, but now I love them because I know the value they add in my life. I’d be dead if it wasn’t for the pills controlling the virus.
  • Not being able to follow my dreams of being a lawyer, because of financial difficulties and not being able to pursue my other dream of being a professional soccer player.
  1. As positive as I am, sometimes (not of often) I feel sorry for myself and wonder why ngisaphila, why I’m still alive, but the thought of my loved one’s and support I have revitalises me … I don’t where I would be if it was not for the support.

People who share the same or similar struggles that I’ve had must not throw in the towel; they must be positive, focus on the future and leave all the negativity dead in the past.


I am currently dating an angelic, phenomenal and beautiful girl. We’ve been together for two years now and she’s been very supportive and understanding of my status. She’s never judged or rejected me because of my status even though she’s not living with HIV. In fact, I feel our relationship got stronger after I disclosed to her 6 months into the relationship. I only disclosed to her after 6 months because I first wanted our relationship to be solid. We became even closer after I disclosed to her. If I could do things differently, I would have disclosed to her from day one, delaying it robbed us of 6 months of a great relationship.

We talk about everything, the precautions we have to take when we decide to get intimate and what we’ll do when we want to have babies. There are a lot of options out there for mixed status couples and we know what we need to do for us not to be limited by HIV.