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Sunday Times-South Africa

HIV-positive man aims for record to help charities




 

Andre van Zijl, 63, has been HIV-positive for more than 30 years, but that has not stopped him from living to the fullest. The sexagenarian is the current holder of 39 world records and is attempting his 40th.

Van Zijl has spent two of a planned 12 days in a Jacuzzi at Fourways Mall, northern Johannesburg, in an attempt to break his previous record of 10 days to raise funds for four children's charities, including Cotlands, which cares for HIV- positive babies.

"We need an informed and actively involved public. People need to stop worrying about the rhino and worry about the children," said Van Zijl.

Living with HIV since 1984 has not been easy for Van Zijl, who has had to deal with stigma.

"When I was first diagnosed, I lost many friends. People were afraid of the unknown and they still are, but it's better," he said.

The quality of antiretrovirals has also improved since he began taking them seven years ago, resulting in less severe side effects.

"I used get very nauseous and have terrible nightmares but over time that has gone away. I still get headaches but I have learnt to live with it," said Van Zijl, who is an advocate of healthy eating and high fitness levels.

According to Dr Cephas Chikanda from Anova Health, an NGO that deals with HIV/Aids-related issues, Van Zijl's long life is not abnormal for someone who takes their ARVs.

"Studies so far have shown that you can live more than 40 years with HIV. The life expectancy is not exactly the same as someone without the disease, but is close."



 


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Information in this article was accurate in June 14, 2013. The state of the art may have changed since the publication date. This material is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between you and your doctor. Always discuss treatment options with a doctor who specializes in treating HIV.