I am blessed by God, my ancestors and you all

I can conclusively state that two of the happiest men in our country at this stage of our lives is the African National Congress president Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma and yours truly, Dr Lucky Mazibuko, albeit for different reasons.

I can conclusively state that two of the happiest men in our country at this stage of our lives is the African National Congress president Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma and yours truly, Dr Lucky Mazibuko, albeit for different reasons.

The ANC president, who also happened to be my chairman at the inaugural South African National Aids Council, is elated and relieved after all charges against him relating to corruption, spanning an amazing eight-year period, were dropped. And I am on top of the world because, over the coming weekend, I will be celebrating my 40th birthday - my life is just beginning.

My own personal jubilation and fulfilment stems from the resilient fact that I have, for more than 18 years, faced the daunting challenge of death and dying at the brutal hands of an incurable infection that has maimed and killed millions of the human race in the more than 25 years of its notorious existence.

In this painful and terrifying period of living with HIV, I have made countless sacrifices not only for myself but also for millions of all my people, often at the expense of great discomfort and embarrassment to my family, my friends and everyone else who has any regard for me. During these difficult years, I have been on an oxygen mask at least three times.

My life would probably be much easier if I had kept my affliction quiet, especially since confidentiality was and continues to be guaranteed.

And whatever inconveniences this viral infection, which is contracted through the most natural act of an expression of affection, may have caused, such as being called derogatory and discriminatory names by those among us who attempt to find solace in other people's anguish and sickness.

My commitment and conviction to the cause and my allegiance to my people remains stern and strong to this present day.

My undying love for my people and my country remains unwavering and has made it impossible for me to stop even when I was on the verge of death.

Needless to say, I have had my chances to step away from this whole struggle for life but I have refused to take them.

I chose to focus on what my instincts are telling me, rather than to focus on what the world was saying. I knew the odds were heavily stacked against me and more than 25million people around the world who were also living with and dying of this thankless and parasitic virus but I strove, often with my last ounce of courage, to pursue my dream of alleviating the plight of all my people, especially children. I never gave up.

I never, even in my wildest dreams, imagined that I could live until my children became teenagers. In fact, most of those trying times, I was ready to die for the cause. God has granted me the privilege to live, to share my anguish with you.

Therefore, I am grateful to God, to all my ancestors, to my family and friends for their continued support.

Most importantly, I feel truly blessed for the privilege to live. I am glad to be alive.

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