HIV AND AIDS IS NO JOKE
By: Mbasa Khwaza
Losing weight in South Africa seems to be enough to start an unfounded HIV rumour, especially if you are a celebrity.
A lot of our celebrities have been accused of being HIV positive based on their severe weight loss. The public makes fun of them using social networks such as Twitter and Facebook as a platform to insult them.
An HIV counsellor Nomzamo Cele, said that there are people who are afraid to disclose their HIV statuses and now we should not wonder why because they are afraid of people like this. Cele said that HIV is no laughing matter and people who joke about it are just clueless about the disease and need to stop.
“HIV and AIDS is no joke, people die because of the disease and people who find something funny about that are just sick, arrogant and they need to be stopped. How are HIV positive people suppose to come out if we still have such people? It’s sad really,” Cele said.
DJ Sbu, Somizi and R Mashesha are amongst the people who were diagnosed by the public with the disease. The latest victim is Ntokozo Mdluli best known as K.O, a member of a trio group Teargas.
K.O has been made fun of on twitter by the fans mocking him about his status. He is now compared to R Mashesha. One tweeted “K.O is the R Mashesha of Teargas”. R Mashesha, his real name Sibusiso Khomo, is a member of the award winning kwaito group Big Nuz. He has been severely bullied on twitter because of his major weight loss and his many trips to the hospital.
Twitter even went far as saying R Mashesha died of AIDS. His recording company Afrotainment released a statement saying that they understand that millions of fans miss the artist and reassured them that he is alive- he was just sick and he will come back. In the statement Mashesha expressed disappointment about the rumours.
“It hurts to be declared dead by the people you love and trust. People often fall prey to people who have the resources and power to spread such rumours,” he said.
R Mashesha tried to clear the rumours about his HIV status again to Drum Magazine. “I am not HIV positive,” he said. He expressed his disappointment that people declared him dead. “It really hurts that people would say that about me, but I am alive and kicking,” he said.
It seems like K.Os rumours cut so deep that in an attempt to stop the trending rumours, K.O’s Manager Thabiso Khati told Zaleb that there is no story here and K.O is just healthy. “KO gyms and cycles every day- he used to be chunky but he’s now in good shape, Thabiso told Zaleb.
He said that the artist changed his lifestyle, “He doesn’t drink or smoke or anything. In fact, KO is never shy to share his workout pictures on Twitter and Instagram, he added.
To support his manager’s remarks K.O wrote a note on Twitter and Instagram saying he forgives the people that are spreading these rumours. “Much like my Maker, I have an incomprehensibly forgiving heart,” he wrote.
“See I get it! The intrigue around who I really am and the life I lead off camera is heightened each time I do good in the game. Thing about paddling lies is that falsehood doesn’t eventually become truth-‐no matter how hard the most spiteful of hearts desires,” he added.
This did not stop the rumours but it seemed to have fuelled them more- his HIV status trended more on Twitter. To kill the rumours once and for all, K.O promptly did an HIV test which revealed that he is in fact HIV negative.
He posted the results on Twitter and Instagram for the whole world to see, when posting the results he said “Here you go seeing that my HIV status is a hot topic out here. You can also peep this little video I put on Instagram.”
Twitter again was buzzing some telling him he should not have entertained that and some commanding him for doing this, while others however were still not convinced, saying he “is in his window period.”
One of his fans Zanele Mthembu lashed out to the Twitter community saying they should consider the impact of their jokes to the receiver and HIV is not something one can joke about and they should get themselves checked first.
“It is amazing that you are all making fun of a deadly disease with no regards on how it will hurt a person and most of you do not even know your own statuses, get tested first before you make hurtful comments and jokes about someone’s HIV status.”