Inspiring Stories of Resilience: South African Celebrities Thriving Despite HIV

Inspiring Stories of Resilience: South African Celebrities Thriving Despite HIV

World Aids Day, observed on December 1, brings to the forefront the collective effort required to combat HIV/AIDS. In South Africa, where an estimated 7.52 million people were living with HIV in 2018 (, the fight against the disease is intertwined with personal narratives of resilience and courage.

Sophie Ndaba, former ‘Generations’ star, shared insights on living with diabetes for almost a decade, emphasizing the challenges and dispelling misconceptions. In an Instagram post on World Diabetes Day, the 50-year-old highlighted the discomfort, pain, confusion, and constant monitoring associated with the condition.

Sophie revealed that her diabetes led to significant weight loss, triggering rumors of terminal illness and even HIV. Despite facing online attacks and death hoaxes, she urged awareness about the severity of diabetes, emphasizing that it’s not something one would wish on their worst enemy.

Criselda Dudumashe: 20 Years of Defiance

LOS ANGELES, CA – JUNE 23: Criselda Dudumashe speaks during the BET International: Global Good Presents: Madiba screening & panel discussion during the 2018 BET Experience on June 23, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Earl Gibson III/Getty Images for BET)

Renowned radio personality Criselda Dudumashe stands as a beacon of strength in the face of HIV. Having disclosed her status in her book, ‘You Are Never Alone: God’s Favourite Daughter,’ Criselda has been an HIV/AIDS ambassador for two decades. She traverses the country, sharing her personal journey to dispel myths and provide hope.


In a poignant Instagram post from 2017, she reflected on her journey. “How long doctor?” she whispered. “How long do I have, living with this?” The response was daunting: “Maximum, two years.” Yet, 19 years later, Criselda stands tall, her resilience echoing the spirit of Joshua 11: 1-9.

Abdurrazack ‘Zackie’ Achmat: A Life Devoted to Change

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA – July 27, 2002: Former President Nelson Mandela with Aids treatment activist Zackie Achmat. Both of these public figures have become powerful forces in South Africa’s battle against Aids. (Photo: Gallo Images via Getty Images/Sunday Times/Terry Shean)

In 1990, famous South African film director Abdurrazack ‘Zackie’ Achmat received a diagnosis that gave him only three months to live. Refusing to succumb to despair, he became an activist, co-founding the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), a prominent HIV/AIDS organization. Achmat’s work aims to eradicate the stigma surrounding HIV, encapsulated in the empowering slogan, ‘HIV Positive.’

Musa ‘Queen’ Njoko: A Journey of Overcoming

Gospel star Musa Njoko, living with HIV for over two decades, exemplifies triumph over adversity. Given only a few months to live, Musa defied the odds. In a recent tweet, she shared a poignant moment: “He was just under 2yrs when I was diagnosed with HIV. I was given 3 months to live… By the grace of God, I’ve lived to see him not only start school but become an international star.”

These celebrities, living with HIV/AIDS for more than ten years, serve as living proof that with a positive attitude and a commitment to a healthy lifestyle, HIV doesn’t have to be the end. Their stories inspire a nation to unite against stigma and continue the fight for a world free from the shackles of HIV/AIDS.

World AIDS Day, celebrated on December 1st, serves as a reminder of the global struggle against HIV and AIDS. In South Africa, where an estimated 7.52 million people were living with HIV in 2018, the fight against the disease is more crucial than ever.

The battle involves raising awareness, providing support, and challenging stereotypes surrounding HIV. In this article, we’ll introduce you to three notable South African celebrities who have openly shared their experiences of living with HIV, dedicating their lives to the cause.

Criselda Dudumashe: A Resilient Radio Personality

Criselda Dudumashe, a well-known radio personality, has not only been an advocate for HIV/AIDS but also a living example of resilience. She has been living with the virus for two decades. In her book, ‘You Are Never Alone: God’s Favorite Daughter,’ Criselda courageously opened up about her journey with the disease.

As an HIV/AIDS ambassador, she travels across the nation, sharing her story and insights on living with this deadly illness. In 2017, she shared her remarkable journey on Instagram, defying the initial prognosis that gave her only two years to live. Her unwavering spirit is an inspiration to many.

Abdurrazack ‘Zackie’ Achmat: Turning Adversity into Activism

Abdurrazack ‘Zackie’ Achmat, a renowned South African film director, received his HIV diagnosis in 1990, along with a grim prediction of three months to live. However, he refused to succumb to despair. Instead, Zackie became a passionate activist, co-founding the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), an organization dedicated to fighting HIV/AIDS in South Africa.

Through the powerful slogan ‘HIV Positive,’ he has worked diligently to combat the stigma surrounding the virus. Zackie’s journey from a life-threatening diagnosis to becoming a prominent activist is a testament to the strength of the human spirit.

Musa ‘Queen’ Njoko: Triumph Over Illness

Gospel sensation Musa Njoko has lived with HIV for over two decades. She defied the odds when she was given just three months to live due to her condition. In a recent tweet, she celebrated her journey, highlighting her son’s growth from a two-year-old to an international star. Musa’s experience exemplifies the potential for hope and resilience in the face of HIV.

South Africa’s Beloved Actress Sindi Dlathu: A Glimpse into Her Life

Sindi Dlathu, renowned for her captivating performances, was born on January 4, 1974, in Meadowlands, South Africa. She has won the hearts of many with her acting skills, especially during her time on the SABC 2 soapie “Muvhango,” where she portrayed Nomthandazo “Thandaza” Buthelezi. Her dedication to the role kept her on the show for over a decade, earning her immense popularity.

Sindi Dlathu maintains a remarkably private life, rarely divulging details about her family. She is married to Okielant Nkosi and has two children, but she prefers to keep them out of the media spotlight. Despite this secrecy, it’s known that she has an older twin sister named Zanele Sangweni, who is married to a local businessman in Soweto.

There have been rumors about Sindi’s HIV status, stemming from her role as an HIV-positive patient in the show “Soul City.” However, in reality, she is HIV negative. Sindi’s acting career dates back to when she was just twelve years old, and her portrayal of Thandaza on “Muvhango” catapulted her to stardom.

In recent years, Sindi Dlathu’s career has continued to flourish. She has taken on the role of Lindiwe Dikana in “The River,” where she plays a cunning diamond mining magnate. Sindi’s compelling performances in the series have left a lasting impression on audiences, and her character’s ruthless determination has added a new layer to her acting portfolio.

Sindi Dlathu remains a timeless figure in South African entertainment, and her ability to captivate audiences both on and off-screen has solidified her status as one of the country’s best-loved actresses.

These South African celebrities, each living with HIV for over a decade, prove that with a positive attitude and a commitment to a healthy lifestyle, HIV doesn’t have to define the end of a fulfilling life. Their stories serve as a beacon of hope and inspiration for all those affected by HIV and contribute to the ongoing fight against the disease.

SABC1’s Rise presenter, Phindile Sithole-Spong found out at 19 that she had full blown AIDS after suddenly falling ill. Manoeuvring through young adulthood at university was tricky she admits. “On my 22nd birthday, while driving home from dinner, my then boyfriend suddenly flipped and called me a murderer who was going to infect and kill him with my HIV. He kicked me out of the car and left me in the middle of nowhere,” she says.

Now engaged to the love of her life, the 27 year old says the biggest scare about living with HIV is wondering how your body will handle growing old with HIV. “Chances of having cervical cancer are 50% more for HIV-positive women. I panic each time I get sick.” Despite that and a history of being sexually molested by her uncle in her childhood, Phindile maintains a positive attitude and plans on having children of her own in the future.

Vusi Nova

The singer, revealed to Drum magazine recently that his current album, Naninina has helped him heal from his tumulous past of drugs and losing his parents. He revealed to the magazine that when his mother passed he was often ashamed to divulge that she had indeed died of HIV.

He says: “At some point I used to lie to people and say my mother died of cancer because I was afraid to say my mother had HIV,” he told the local publication. “I was too scared to say I once took drugs to numb pain.”

Nokuthula Lwedaba

The former Rhythm City actress revealed her mother died from the condition in 2005 while awaiting ARVs the health department had run out of at the time.

Charlie Sheen

Screen Shot 2016-12-01 at 11.58.05
Sheen revealed last year he was HIV positive and had paid an amount totalling to millions of dollars to prevent the news from being leaked as he had been diagnosed four years prior to revealing his status. Speaking to NBC, the actor said one woman whom he had paid for sex had taken a photo of his HIV medication in his bathroom and said she would leak it to the press if he didn’t pay up.

Magic Johnson

Johnson is one of the first celebrities to disclose his HIV status to the world in 1991 after being diagnosed at 32. At 57 he’s been an example that it’s possible through correct medication to maintain a long-lasting healthy life with the disease.

Koyo Bala

The late 3Sum singer who passed away earlier this year at the Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town after lost his battle to cancer. In 2011 Koyo had disclosed his HIV-positive status to the country.

Lesego Motsepe

Popular for playing Lettie Matabane on Isidingo, the actress disclosed her HIV status on Kaya FM on World Aids Day in 2011. Sadly the star passed away in 2014.

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