This young Zambian AIDS activist is one of rare positive testimonies in this life and one from whom thousands draw encouragement and source inspiration by many. His story is such an incredible one, but his contribution to the struggle is even more than inspiration. The aids consortium is proud to be associated by such an incredible human being. Below is summary of Ntimbwe journey.
My name is Ntimbwe.M.Mpamba. I’m 33 years old and I have been HIV positive for 33 years. This simply means I was born with HIV and I have been living with HIV for 31 years. I’m a very vibrant male in society who always makes a difference in people’s lives. I was born on the 12th December 1982 and was raised by both parents. My mother was a nutritionist by profession and my father was a Purchasing and Supply Manager under the Zambia Consolidated Copper mines.
Being the last born in a family of 5 kids had its ups and downs. I guess the downs got the best of my life. At the time I was an energetic little boy, I always did find myself in situations which were unbearable. I mean just the thought of being crushed by a car or being accidentally hit by flying shot-put or even falling from a tall mango tree were tragedies that made me feel as though I was indestructible in my own crazy world.
Relocating from mother Zambia to South Africa in 1992 opened up new doors to my life where I would enjoy the goodness of greener pastures. As sweet as it may sound, my health got a knock on the head; I started to experience all manner of sickness. I got chicken pox( herpes simplex), had a week bladder and rushes all over my body and face. My mother being a nutritionist introduced me to the world of vitamins. The love and trust I had for my parents didn’t give me a reason to ask any questions but simply just flowed with the music.
Early 1995, my father got seriously ill and suffered from meningitis. Not knowing what it was, I didn’t it take seriously because I thought it was a just a phase in life. It didn’t take much time before the grave called his name. At that point, a part of me was torn apart.
After my father’s death things became difficult for us to remain in South Africa as my mother was not working. Running out of options, mother decided to head back to Zambia where she would try to keep the family from falling apart. The moving back was the easy part but getting back to our feet was something I lived to remember. My mother being unemployed, my health not being up-to-date was something I couldn’t bear. Praying and fasting while lodging at my uncle’s place was the best solution to victory. It didn’t take much time before God answered our plea. We got a house, mom got a good job and got my hope back to live a life that was not perfect but still gave the energy to make it big in this world.
I was finally happy until pneumonia came walking in, T.B came flying after and Herpes managed to sneak in my livelihood. These followed each other as they were related to one another. But as much as they had set their desire to take me down, my strong mindset was not shaken because I knew that I was more than a conqueror and was born for greatness and not failure. Late 2004, my mother suffered from a T.B relapse and didn’t manage to pull through. My life was at a stand still because my reason for living had gone with her. My school life was distorted and I saw myself as an empty vessel. I was later taken in my sisters who were in South Africa. The changing of environment took its toll and my health was beyond redemption.
First my left lung was eroded by a virus, then I had herpes zoster (shingles) which left my right eye with total blindness and then was told that I was HIV positive. Me? HIV positive? A lot of questions went through my head, how did I acquire it, I have never been with multi sexual partners as I was not sexually active and had not been exposed to any risky situations that could cause me to acquire the disease. I was really ill and to be honest with you, I never for once thought I would make it through. Through support from the church, friends and family, my spirit got the hope to hang on and fight the good fight.
In 2005 ARV’s world was the next member of my life and got to be assigned as my assistant in putting the HIV virus in its place. At this time my CD4 Count was 36 and the viral load was 1 000 000 plus copies. As my body responded to the drugs, my health got a massive boost. Through a combination of faith, prayers and the medication I regained my sight back and the lungs kicked back into shape.I decided to play around with medication; I started taking it at my own time and skipping. The virus didn’t waste time to fight back and I became resistant to the drugs.
The Family Secret
After spending a lot of money trying to locate the drug that I was resistant to in private hospitals. I went through 5 different specialists and the doctors told me my best option would be a Government hospital. At this stage my CD4 count dropped from 490 to 8 and Viral load to 1 000 000 plus again. I was referred to a Government hospital where research would be tried on me to try and keep me alive. I responded well to the research and gained my health back through the grace of the Almighty God.
In 2012 a family relative actually told me I was actually born with HIV and the entire family had kept this as a secret. Point is denial is real and many a times I have tried to run away from this situation. The saying goes what you don’t know won’t kill you but in actual sense what you don’t know will kill you faster than you know.
In all of this I kept a positive attitude and I have striven to live a normal life. I matriculated in 2001 with 3 Distinctions and I went college where I have studied accounting. I completed the CAT’s programme with ACCA and would like to complete my ACCA to become a chartered accountant. My goals are to be inspiration to the young and victims of HIV as well as young children dealing with different emotions related to rejection, bad health and struggling families. If I can do it, so can they.I have dealt with different emotions and of course I have been depressed and asked the normal question which any person in my situation would ask- why me?
The bottom line is I have risen above HIV, with ARV’s readily available from African Governments, love from family and friends and loved ones
The bottom line is I have risen above HIV, with ARV’s readily available from African Governments, love from family and friends and loved ones, I see myself as an important member of society and would like to make a positive contribution to other people. I would like to reshape the face HIV especially for children born with HIV. Today anything is possible and nothing can stop you if your spirit wills. Remember life is a straight road that has no stop sign, no corners but just pit stops. I have written a book where the whole journey of my life will be explained in detail.