When Victor Mammeshi was not taking his medication as prescribed, doctors thought his chances of survival were low. At one point, they even suggested to his brother that he should be taken home to pass away peacefully. However, Victor believes that God has a different plan for him, and he is grateful for the blessings he has received. Now, he encourages other patients to stick with their treatment because there is life after illness.

By Noko Mashilo

Victor Mammeshi, a survivor as resilient as a towering oak tree, is now casting his gaze upon his 15-year hiatus from treatment, a period as vast and expansive as the open sea, after the dual diagnosis of TB and HIV in the year 2000.

Victor’s health plummeted like a falling star as he battled to grapple with his decision for a gruelling 15 years. His TB and HIV conditions were like a raging wildfire, consuming his body with each passing day. Like a ticking time, bomb, he posed a serious threat to others, like a venomous snake ready to strike, all because of the missed treatment.

Victor revealed that it was not until 2016, after the funeral of one of the eight men who had raped him at thirteen, that he started taking his medication.

“I was angry for 15 years and I almost died. I could not have a closure but today I have found peace within me and kissed anger goodbye,” said the 37-year-old from Upington in the Northern Cape.

He stated that throughout his default period, doctors held the belief that his chances of survival were slim: “In one incident, they even called my brother to take me out of the hospital so that I could die peacefully at home.  Little did they know that God had a bigger plan for me, and I thank Him for His blessings. Today I encourage patients to complete their treatment because there is life after any sickness,” said Victor who wants patients to adhere to their treatment,” he said, emphasising the importance of patients following their treatment plan.

Victor stressed that the significance of medication goes beyond just healing: “It is to suppress the bacteria inside one system so that one can be healthy. If you do not take medication, the virus inside you will have freedom. At least with TB is for a short period and HIV is forever or until there is a cure,” said Victor.

He also underlined the need to err on the side of caution: “We need to be cautious to avoid transmitting or contracting the virus. Let us prioritise the safety of ourselves and our families,” suggested Victor, who serves as a district secretary for the Civil Society Forum and is an evangelist at the Presbyterian Church of Africa under the leadership of Reverend BF Mafa.

He revealed that mentioned that he contracted COVID-19 during the pandemic, but fortunately, he did not require hospitalisation: “I underwent a two-week quarantine period, during which I was under the care of my brother, Reginald Majezi.”

Victor, who is also the TB ambassador for the South African National AIDS Council (SANAC), expressed their strong dedication to actively combating tuberculosis. They are urging the government to adopt comparable measures to combat TB, similar to the ones they have already taken and are currently pursuing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Every step we make should demonstrate that we are investing to the end of TB so that we can save lives,” he said.

He expressed his appreciation for the dedicated efforts of scientists, nurses, and doctors in helping people recover. He emphasised his desire to see a society free from TB and HIV and encouraged people to prioritize healthy eating and completing their treatment. Victor also shared his happiness about gaining weight and feeling more vibrant.

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