Ncedeka Mbune, Body Maps, 2009, digital print on paper.
When I see this picture I feel much happier just because when I look at it, I see what I can’t see when I look at myself in the mirror. But it is not all a happy story. Most of the other women have shown a baby inside them that is HIV negative and who is alive now.
At the top of my painting it says, “I’m still hurt about my child’s death who passed away in 1999 when she was one year four months old.” When I was pregnant I went for an HIV test, but the test showed me negative when I was positive. I breastfed her and passed mother to child transmission to her from breast milk or just by birth.
When she started to get sick, she started coughing and then vomiting. I took her to many doctors, private doctors and hospitals who said, “No, it’s just a cough, as long as she take the medicine it will go away.” But instead of her becoming better, she became worse and then she died.
She was my first child. I want to have another child if there is a way. But if there’s no way, I can live like this. But if there is a way that I can have a baby, I would like to. When I see this picture, where she is in my arms, it is bringing back those memories of being with her before she died.
At MSF, they said I am going to live for a long time but they didn’t say how long is it, how many years, how many months; you just have to take your medication regularly. If you forgot it, then that means you even forgot yourself. Because the more you forgot your medication, the more the virus will know your body and the virus will defeat you again.