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In praise of support groups

<p>Mtshana Mvlisi</p>

June 24, 2013

Thandisa Nogaga (27) from Mcobothini Village shares her experiences of joining a support group and why it is important, even if you are not the person living with the condition.

Nogaga joined a support group for people living with HIV in 2007 in the hope of being better equipped to support her sister who was infected.

“At the time it was hard for her to talk about it. I decided on my own to join and was educated a lot.

“This helped a lot as everything happened with my sister as people in the group said it would. I was not surprised when I found out later that my sister did not take her treatment as directed and she died despite all the trials and tribulations we went through trying to help her,” recalls Nogaga.

There is a wrong perception that support groups are only for people living with HIV and not for those affected.

However, many believe there are huge advantages to having a support group in every community.

“Talking alone helps and you become aware that many others are facing the same challenges. These support groups can be a place of learning for many people who care for themselves and their families. Many things can be discussed,” says Nogaga, who credits the support group with helping them through some tough times.