In 2007, Thobile married her secondary school sweetheart. Together, they built a house high in the mountains in this rural part of KwaZulu-Natal – home to the most severe HIV burden in South Africa.
Three years later, they learned they were having a baby. But tragically, their little girl died soon after birth. The diagnosis was HIV.
Sadly, this would also be the moment that Thobile and her husband learned that they too were HIV positive. As they struggled with the loss of their daughter, they sought HIV counseling at a CDC-supported clinic in a neighboring community. With the encouragement of the health care workers there, they also began antiretroviral therapy, which they have continued to this day.
Eventually, grief gave way to hope – and they began to wonder if, perhaps, they could try again to become parents. “The doctors and nurses, they educated me,” Thobile says. "They taught me how best to eat, they taught me about breastfeeding safely and they told me if I took my medicine every day, our baby could be born healthy.” So, they did just that.
In 2017, Thobile gave birth to Banele, a “beautiful, healthy baby boy,” effuses his mom. He is HIV free.