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moment, so that in my own way I could use the rare platform pre- sented to me to make a difference in someone else’s life. I had lived a not so commendable lifestyle and I was and still am paying for those bad decisions I made when I was young. I needed to tell my story so that others could learn from it.


“Telling my fellow contestants was


a challenge in itself. But I had to be upfront and honest with them too, moreso because my medication had to be kept in the fridge, had to be taken regularly, and there were obviously going to be questions about what was wrong with me. I had to come up with a solid story or tell the truth. I told the truth. Had I remained silent and opted to keep it a secret, I would have only suc-


ceeded in perpetuating the act of denial and cementing the percep- tion that many people still hold to- day, that HIV does not exist,” said Tender.


Tender found out her HIV status by coincidence in September 2001 af- ter she had visited her doctor about a chest problem. Test results first revealed that she had tuberculo- sis, and then HIV. This knowledge did not sit well with the youngster and she proceeded to live a life of debauchery that comprised of con- stant partying, drinking, having sex with men – with or without a con- dom – and giving no thought to the fact that she was at a stage where she needed to take medication for her condition. She could not care less. She was in denial.


“I wore what I call the ‘dress of denial’. And I wore that dress for years. I contracted opportunistic


“Had I remained silent and opted to keep it a secret, I would have only succeeded in perpetuating the act of denial and cementing the perception that many people still hold today, that HIV does not exist,”


18 INSPIRATIONAL WOMAN MAGAZINE


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