My name is Concillia Muhau. I'm 27 years old and the mother of a four year old daughter Natasha. I am HIV positive and alive today only because I get access to lifesaving treatment which keeps my disease at bay -- the medication is provided by organizations like the Global Fund, PEPFAR and (RED) and costs about 40 cents per day. Without it I would not have survived the last year. My story, and those of three of my fellow Zambians, is depicted in the film The Lazarus Effect, which was produced by (RED) and HBO.
Five years ago, I began receiving medication for HIV. While I was blessed to receive the drugs, unfortunately I didn't understand that I would need to take them for the rest of my life. After I felt strong again, I stopped taking the ARVs. I thought, "I feel better, so why should I continue taking the pills?" I thought that once I was better I didn't need to keep taking the drugs.
After some time I became so sick that I was close to death which you can see in the film. I realized that I had to take ARVs again, this time with the understanding that they will keep me alive if I commit to taking them every day for the rest of my life until there is a cure found for AIDS. It was the greatest gift I ever received and I feel like I've been raised from the dead. I am able to take care of my beautiful daughter, visit friends and finally go back to work. Now, I'm a peer counselor for other people with HIV and teach them about taking their ARVs to stay healthy.
I am one of the lucky ones. Because of groups like The Global Fund, I am able to get free medication. But many are not so lucky. They would like to take medication, but there is not always enough for everyone. That is why I felt it was important to allow my story to be told in The Lazarus Effect. People all over the world should know that many people are still suffering and that they can help -- that 40 cents can give another person the ARVs that will help them live.
Until I saw pictures of myself when I was sick I didn't realize just how ill I was. It was at that moment that I said, "You can do it. You can take the ARVs when you are supposed to and take them for the rest of your life".
Now I share that message with others, using the picture of myself at death's door so they can see it with their own eyes.