Gang-raped and got infected with HIV

Life seemed to be at a standstill when Nthabiseng Iter Mogatwe, 36 years old, got gang-raped and infected with HIV&AIDS. She kept asking herself why she had to go through such a traumatic event in her life. As traumatizing as it was, Nthabiseng had to dust herself up and move on with life. The thing with infection is that it is not like you got physically beaten, and the wound would heal with time. We talk about a permanent condition which, unfortunately, Nthabiseng would have to live with for the rest of her life. What we should draw from this phenomenon woman is her resilience, hard work, and a hopeful spirit to keep believing in herself and her dreams. She never allowed her situation to define who she was. Let’s conversate with her about her story of survival and be inspired.

Tell us about yourself. Who are you, and where do you come from?
I am Nthabiseng Iter Mogatwe. 36 years old lady originally from Randfontein, Mohlakeng, South Africa.

Share some light about your childhood, your background.
I am the 7th child of 9 children. I grew up in a knitted family, we did not have much, but the love kept us together and happy. And all we had was each other.

What is your training or educational background?
I did my preparatory, primary, and high school in Mohlakeng and completed my matric in 2002. I then went to college to acquire a Computer certificate in Randfontein. I also studied an Information Technology course at Capricorn College FET in Polokwane, which I abandoned along the way. Currently, I am an office administrator at ThyRest Foundation. I am also an HIV, and GBVF activist.

When were you diagnosed, and at what stage was it?
I tested for HIV in 2007, and I was just a young lady of 22 years by then. I decided to test after I got gang-raped by a group of guys in 2006 on June 03. And the results came back positive.

How was the virus initially detected? Did you always have symptoms?
The virus was detected by antibody – agent test, even though there were no symptoms from my side. I only wanted to know where I stand with my health.

How did you feel when you first received the news?
Immediately after receiving the news, I broke down and cried because I was not mentally prepared. I isolated myself and secretly resented people because I wanted to sleep and never wake up. It was a difficult season of my life. It is where I began to suffer from depression amd felt hopeless.

Did you have a support network? If not, how did you overcome it?
My family and friends fully supported me when they found out about my status. I relied on them emotionally and I was able to overcome most of the challenges. However, sometimes I felt as though they did not understand what I was going through. I looked for a support group that dealt with rape victims, and survivors. When I found it, I knew I belonged with them because no one judged me, and we were all going through the same thing.

Tell us about your treatment process.
In 2010 I contracted TB which made my CD4 below, and I was advised to start taking treatment so that it can be boosted. In 2011 I started my treatment though it was not friendly. They had to change my treatment, and my body slowly adjusted to the new treatment. I’ve been on it ever since.

Were there any programs or services offered to you that would help with the treatment process?
I was offered to be counseled, and they outlined the advantages of taking and disadvantages of not taking treatment. The minor obstacles during the first treatment were developing itchy rashes on my face and body, vomiting, and feeling dizzy. But after they changed the treatment, I became fine. I made sure I ate healthily and did not consume what I was told not to.

How did you overcome backlash and rejection from people?
When I decided to break the silence, I prepared myself physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually for the positive and negative reactions because we have different ways of reacting to everything presented to us. It did not affect me that much considering that I was mentally prepared for anything. Honestly speaking, I received more support than rejection.

What message would you like to provide to someone living with the disease?
My message is that one needs to accept, love, value, and embrace themselves. HIV is not a death sentence, it is only a virus occupying your body, and you have the full power to control it.

What kind of challenges have you faced in your journey, in the beginning, and along the road?
The only challenge I have faced is that I would get attacked by sicknesses because the immune system is working double. I had Endometriosis, I contracted Covid-19 earlier this year. I would get sick from time to time, but I’m still standing. I am still the most beautiful woman and living my life.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to follow in your footsteps?
Make God the center of your life. Love yourself, chase your dreams, take care of yourself by taking your medication if you are positive. And if you are negative, try to remain negative. Dance to life because life is worth living.

Where do you see yourself in the next 5-10years to come?
I would be impacting the world and teaching them that we want a free HIV and GBVF generation. I would have an organization that teaches everyone that we are equal irrespective of our status. And of course, married my number one cheerleader Mr. Monarch, and raised our kids on a farm, acquiring wealth because I sure deserve it.

How would you want to be remembered when you depart here on earth?
I Was Here by Beyoncé Knowles
I want to leave my footprints on the sands of time
Know there was something that, something that I left behind
When I leave this world, I’ll leave no regrets
Leave something to remember, so they won’t forget
I was here, I lived, I loved, I was here
I did, I’ve done, everything that I wanted
And it was more than I thought it would be
I will leave my mark so everyone will know I was here
I wanna say I lived each day until I died
I know that I had something in somebody’s life
The hearts I have touched will be the proof that I leave
That I made a difference and this world will see
I was here, I lived, I loved, I was here
I did, I’ve done, everything that I wanted
And it was more than I thought it would be
I will leave my mark so everyone will know
I was here, I lived, I loved, I was here
I did, I’ve done, everything that I wanted
And it was more than I thought it would be
I will leave my mark so everyone will know
I was here
I just want them to know
That I gave my all, did my best
Brought someone some happiness
Left this world a little better just because
I was here
I was here, I lived, I loved, I was here
I did, I’ve done, everything that I wanted
And it was more than I thought it would be
I wanna leave my mark so everyone will know
I was here, I lived, I loved, I was here
I did, I’ve done
I was here, I lived, I loved, I was here
I did, I’ve done
I was here.
Thank you!!


Nthabiseng is one of the inspiring women to draw strength from. She is the epitome of resilience, hard work, and self-acceptance personified. Her story is a reminder that there’s beauty in our brokenness. HIV is not the end of the road. Take your medication and live the best life that you deserve.

Social media platforms.
Facebook: Sengkameng Iter Nthabiseng Mogatwe.
Twitter:mogatwe_nthabi.

Please do not forget to check out some of my posts below.

From my heart to yours.

Cheers!!

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