I was born on the 12th December 1950, in Rusape, a small town in the most beautiful province of Zimbabwe, Manicaland, the sixth child in a family of eight. I grew up in what was then regarded as a medium class family by African standards (in the colonial era). My father a self made man, with no more than basic education, adequately provided for us including the extended family! From humble beginnings as a groom at a police training depot, he rose through the ranks to the highest post an African constable could attain at that time. He was a devoted Christian and instilled in us Christian values at a tender age, values that I still cherish today. Throughout his life he set for himself standards that none of us his children can ever match. Most children those days could not go to high school because of poverty a situation that we were spared. My mother was a simple loving house wife and had a complimentary role to my father’s effort in instilling Christian values in the family.

Having been born and raised in a family, with such a back ground you can imagine what I went through after discovering that I had AIDS in 1992. I was then 42 years of age, happily married, with four beautiful children, rising in the marketing field. Like most people in Zimbabwe at that time I had heard of a mysterious incurable disease called AIDS which was reported to be affecting gays in America. Little did I know then that our region would soon be the epicenter of the dreaded epidemic. I had read that this disease was associated with gays, drug addicts, and commercial sex workers. Church elders preached that it was associated with promiscuity. On numerous occasions I had heard church elders preaching that those infected by AIDS were being punished by god for their sins. I could never contemplate being infected with such a demonized disease so I thought.


Towards the end of 2001 I caught a cold that I could not shake off for months. However at first I ignored it until I developed thrush and had to consult a doctor. I was hospitalized for a week and discharged after recovery. Within a month I was back in hospital once again this because of the recurrence of the thrush that had this time spread down my throat. A couple of months down the line, I developed an itchy rush all over the body. This gave me sleepless nights as I constantly scratched all over the body. I was referred to a dermatologist who subscribed a skin ointment that did not help. My whole body became dark, shiny and scaly. I started avoiding people and isolated myself. I persistently had diarrhoea and was in and out of hospital. The last thing I suspected was that I could be HIV positive let alone having full blown AIDS. In my church pastors associated the disease with promiscuity, and that having it was a punishment from God for one’s sins. People like me could not possibly have AIDS, so I erroneously thought.


Finally I knew of my status in 1992. In Zimbabwe at that time, doctors were reluctant to tell patients that they were HIV positive. The condition was regarded as a death sentence, and anyone who got infected with it was said to be in the “departure lounge”.

I knew of my status quite by chance when I was in Harare Central a medical school hospital. A group of medical students came for a practical lesson at the hospital and one of them took my medical history. Later on, be come back with the group and his mentor. I think because of the condition I was in, he may have assumed that either I did not understand English or was too ill to comprehend the discussion. In his report he indicated that I was not responding to treatment therefore suspected I had a compromised immune system which may have emanated from the acquired immune deficiency syndrome. At first I did not worry much as I believed it to be an opinion of a medical student. However it kept nagging me so much that I could not stand it anymore. After they left I requested to see the doctor, who told me that he had a private practice in my residential area. After skirting around the issue he then requested that I pay him a visit for further discussion at his surgery after my discharge from hospital. After several sessions of counseling which included my wife he finally confirmed my HIV positive status.

To be told of HIV positive status at that time was a life shattering experience. Like everyone else, I did not know much about HIV and AIDS, but I knew there was no cure for the condition. For me it was a death sentence. I had just been told of the possibility of my gradual death, though death befalls everyone, the realization shattered me. I had always taken life for granted. I experienced the pain, the emotional turmoil, the uncertainty, the hopelessness, the fear, the anguish, and I started wondering if it was worth my while to wait for the inevitable death. I seriously considered suicide at that time, and would have attempted it had it not been of the support I got from my wife


Stigma is generally defined as a negative social label that disgrace, shames a person seen to have a certain attribute, such as being HIV positive. When this attitude becomes overt acts which are harmful to the person, we would call this discrimination. As one peer leader of Positive Initiative Trust said: “Stigma and discrimination affects you mentally, they break down your defenses and mental ability to cope and there is no medication you can take to cure this.”

The boundaries of stigma and discrimination are limitless. They eat away your dignity and feeling of self-worth. They come from within your traditional support network, your church, your family, your close friends, your neighbors – pillars of your strength. I learnt this through experience.

My life went through a radical change after knowing that I had AIDS. I became very conscious of my status and isolated myself from friends which I later learnt was self stigmatization. I devoted all my time in reading books and magazines on the pandemic. I visited AIDS Service Organizations seeking information. That is how I came across a then, recently founded network of support groups of people living with HIV. I was referred to a support group comprised of 4 people in Harare. Due to stigma which was rife in those days the group met secretly at one of the member’s house. I was inspired by the courage of this small group, the determination to fight the virus and overcome the stigma and discrimination. We agreed as a group on the need to educate our communities in preventing the spread of HIV. The biggest barrier was the misconceptions about AIDS which fuelled stigma. We decided to overcome this through disclosure of our status first to relatives and subsequently to our respective communities. I devoted my life to this as I did not wish anybody to experience what I had gone through.


I lived with HIV and AIDS for 7 years depending on alternative therapy, for the treatment of opportunistic infections.  ARVs were not available in public health institutions then. However the life saving drugs were available in pharmacies with a prescription, but the cost was prohibitive. As the number of support groups increased we became visible. We established herbal gardens for treatment of opportunistic infections in every community that we had a support group. I visited opportunistic clinics in and around Harare encouraging people living with HIV to form support groups. I was elected the district representative of the national network of people living with HIV in my district. Subsequently I rose through the ranks to my current position as the board chairman of the network. I also sit in the Southern Africa region body which is affiliated to the Global Network of People Living Positively.

My passion to reduce stigma and prevent HIV among young people motivated me to facilitate a sport based approach in the fight against HIV and AIDS. That is how Positive Initiative Trust came into existence.

Treatment is now accessible in Zimbabwe although available to only about half the people who need it. People still have stigmatizing attitudes towards HIV positive people in the communities although the situation has improved tremendously.

It is estimated that 1,168.263 people are living with HIV in Zimbabwe, of these 1,024.610 are young people below the age of 29. This group is the most vulnerable justifying the need for interventions like the Positive Initiative which engages the youth on their terms. Football is the most popular sport in the country more so to the youth. Positive Initiative Trust is utilizing the conducive environment created by football games to raise awareness of the epidemic among young people.