By: Mogotladi Makgato

Meet Lebogang Brenda Motsumi (29), a proud mother of one and a HIV activist. Brenda raises HIV awareness by sharing her story. She shares about her reckless lifestyle she lead as a teenager, a celebrity mystery guy and how she transformed into a stronger woman inside out.

It started with hunger for fame, trying to escape depression by seeking approval from the society-mainly men in order to feel better about insecurities she had about her body. She hated her looks and weight, which led to her caring less about herself. Lebogang retreated to careless lifestyle to gain popularity.

She broke her virginity at 13 and slept with multiple men without protection, that made her feel like a real woman. She wanted to fit in and did anything she could just to be famous, including drinking and smoking.

She dated a guy from Soweto at the age of 16 and got pregnant, but her mother helped her get a ‘back door abortion’. “It was already too late and it led to me giving birth to a premature baby on the 7th month of being pregnant, the baby then died a month later after he was discharged from ICU. “ A month later I woke up and he had turned blue and very cold.”, she said.

Though the baby passed on while sleeping next to her, she didn’t feel much pain. She said she was hurt but felt a sense of relief. She continued with her reckless life, got pregnant 3 times with two different guys and aborted each time. “ I used abortion as a prevention method”, she adds.

Lebo scored her longing dream of becoming popular and cool, She met a famous Kwaito star- whom she doesn’t want to disclose. She ‘got crazy when he asked her to be his girlfriend’. Lebogang explains that she was ‘not only reckless but also stupid’.

She didn’t use any protection with the celebrity guy. “ I wanted to get pregnant with his kid, I don’t know why but I just wanted to”, she said. Their relationship was fun driven, fulfilling sexual desires, making out almost everywhere and boozing.

It was wild and reckless. Lebogang got her fame but eventually lost touch with him. It didn’t matter that much to her, she satisfied her longing desire. Life went on, all was well until a month after his disappearance.

He called her while sick in bed at hospital. He asked her to buy Sunday Times newspaper. The headline read ‘so and so is dying from HIV’.

Even after seeing the headline she never thought she had contracted the virus. She still felt ‘untouchable’. After few months“ I went to see him and he wasn’t looking good, he was in a bad state, too sick”.

Even though she saw his ex boyfriend knocking on heaven’s door and that HIV/AIDS is real, she didn’t have cold feet. The mystery guy committed suicide. His existence in her memory faded away like a smoke does after the fire dies.

Brenda met another guy in 2009, who is now late and the father of her child. Though rumors had it that she is positive he never confronted her, until 15th AUGUST 2009, ‘he insisted that we get tested.’ Though she knew that chances that she is positive are higher she kept consoling herself that she is clean since she didn’t look sick.

After getting tested reality finally knocked in. “I got the news that I thought I would never hear in my lifetime.” She then went home and broke the news to her mother, “and to my surprise she was very supportive.

My boyfriend was also supportive.’ She kept on being in denial. She says that she didn’t believe that ‘a fat person like me would be sick’. When reality finally kicked in she tried committing suicide. She explains that she ‘wanted to go to the nearest tallest building and jump.’ She drank pills but failed, instead she got really sick.

Her CD4 count dropped. She finally accepted and started taking ARVs. “I was told that I am now married to these ARVs and I will have to take them everyday of my life”, she said. Lebogang wasn’t only dealing with the fact that

she is positive, but she was also pregnant. She was also, at that time preparing for matric exams. She was going through the most ‘all this was too much for a young girl.’ “ It got worse, seven months into the pregnancy I got shingle”, she elaborates. She adds that the pain was unbearable and couldn’t handle it. So much was going on in an 18-year-old’s life, all happening at the same time.

In 2011 her life turned around. She got a job and somehow got carried away.; she went back to her wild lifestyle, partying and boozing. She was looking fresh and had gained weight. She then stopped taking her ARV’s. “ I forgot that I was married to the pill, I guess I divorced them”, she explains.

Though her mother warned her she didn’t listen she continued being reckless. Defaulting lead to her being critical, it started with nose bleeding, then loosing a bit of weight to completely losing it. She was later diagnosed with pneumonia and abdominal TB.

Lebogang is now an aspiring businesswoman, HIV speaker, radio presenter, and she is about to launch her book. She is an eye opener to the youth. She encourages people who are HIV positive to live positively by promoting a healthy lifestyle.

Brenda shares her story to alert the masses that HIV is real, can be avoided and conquered. She shares her story on social media, at conferences and wherever she is booked as a speaker. The HIV activist had been interviewed on radio and TV.

Though she messed up as a teenager she doesn’t let that define her.“ I am everything stamped in my mind; I am everything that my heart desires. I am young, beautiful, intelligent, sexy and I am HIV positive”, she declares.