Misconceptions and Acceptance: People Living with HIV/AIDS Need Love and Compassion

HealthSocial issues

Notes to broadcasters

In many regions and countries, people have difficulty acknowledging that HIV/AIDS exists; in fact they deny that it is a problem. This happens at many levels – at the personal level, in families, in local communities, and governments. The following short program addresses this problem. The issue of denial must be considered before other steps towards combatting AIDS can be made. Other important related issues to address are fear of the disease and discrimination of those who have HIV/AIDS.


MaRedebe: Mother of a girl with HIV/AIDS
MaMhlongo: Good friend of MaRedebe

Gugu is not coming back here, period! Now, if you don’t mind I have a church meeting to attend. You know your way out.

But MaRadebe – you can’t mean that! This is your daughter we’re talking about. Just think of the rejection she’s feeling. You’ve scared the daylights out of her. She can’t come to you, let alone talk to you. You shouldn’t throw her out of the house like that. Come to your senses!

MaMhlongo, I don’t know why you’re still meddling in my affairs. I’ve made my decision and it’s final. No need to remind me of Gugu being my daughter, thank you very much. I carried her for nine months. And don’t talk to me about rejection – you should know better. I’m the one who is constantly reminded to put my house in order. I’m a laughing stock already so don’t rub salt in my wound. I didn’t sleep around, and I didn’t wake up with a virus, but I’m the one facing ridicule and shame. I can’t walk without looking behind my shoulder to see who might be pointing at me. Who wants that? Maybe you do, but definitely not me.

Just listen to yourself. I,… I,… I,… all the way through. I never thought you were this selfish. Try to put yourself in Gugu’s shoes, just this once. I am your friend and am so sorry this happened to your family, but you are not helping the situation by making your daughter an outcast. She needs your love and support more now than ever. Your rejection is nothing but a ticket to suicide. If you haven’t heard, I should tell you that she’s in the hospital – she tried to kill herself again.

(surprised) I had no idea.

Your daughter is in pain. I tried to comfort her. She’s been with me for seven weeks since you chased her away. I’ve shared my spoons, plates, bath towels with her. But do I look ill? You won’t get AIDS by hugging your daughter. I hug her all the time. She needs reassurance that she’s worthy. She said I shouldn’t tell you this, but I will. Suicide was her attempt to end your agony. She wanted to die, be buried and forgotten, rather than live and cause you shame. It is never too late to patch things up. Wake up before it is too late. I’m through talking to you.

What do you think will happen? Did MaMhlong get through to MaRedebe to change her misconceptions about HIV and AIDS? What will become of Gugu and her mother’s relationship if she survives? Many people have a difficult time admitting that AIDS exists, and that their own family members have the disease. It’s time for us to accept the reality of HIV/AIDS and support our loved ones who are affected.

– END –


  • Contributed by Ntombi Sis N Radebe, Programming Manager, Maputaland Community Radio. Originally published as Developing Countries Farm Radio Network Package 62, number 4, January 2002.
  • Maputaland Community Radio is located in Jozini, KwaZulu-Natal Province, South Africa, 100.3/107.6 FM. It broadcasts from Jozini to UBombo and Ingwavuma rural areas in the languages of isiZulu and English.