Seventy-year-old Stanley Monageng is one of the people that are a living testimony that being HIV positive is not a death sentence but lifestyle adjustment challenge which can eventually lead to someone enjoying a long and healthy life. After the launch of the Treat All Campaign which aims to take people on treatment immediately after they are diagnosed, Monageng engaged in a 150 km walk from Molepolole to Gaborone to sensitise the public about the initiative which can save their lives. His walk began at Thusang Bana Centre in Molepolole on July 1 where he is the Director. Molepolole North MP Mohamed Khan was available to launch the walk. He is supported by the US Embassy through the Presidency’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and will be calling for voluntary testing and counselling through the walk. His walk ended on July 10 where an official welcome ceremony was hosted. Monageng is one of those people who were diagnosed with HIV in those early years when HIV/AIDS was killing many people in Botswana. Being a health practitioner, he decided to get tested after realising that he was constantly getting sick no matter what the doctors prescribed for him. At that time government was not paying for the Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ARVs) medication as it is now. He has started many organisations to address HIV/AIDS and has been to other countries om the same mission.
“Scientists only know it from the book, but I have gone through pain and suffering from this disease, was discriminated against and faced all types of hardships in 2000 when I was first diagnosed after thinking that I was just having common flu,” he said. He even went on TB treatment before he tested for HIV/AIDS. It took a day when he couldn’t wake up that he knew he needed to do something. With his wife being a health professional too they knew that they had to do something. “I had to endure all the expenses because it was not like now, and with the recent launch of the Treat All campaign I think people should test and get on treatment now. We lost many people then because they did not have this opportunity,” he said. He got diagnosed with the virus at the time when there was a lot of stigma and myths surrounding it. Monageng said he wants people to look at his life and be encouraged because he is healthy at 70 years and knows many people who have died of the virus bust because they did not want to be tested or didn’t take the pills. “This walk is proof of how energetic I am and through it we preach the message to Batswana,” he said.