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Case study – Gold Fields nurse leads by example

Case study – Gold Fields nurse leads by example


Vicky Gumede

 

Vicky Gumede’s story begins like so many others. Months and months of feeling sick pointed to a deeper underlying health issue. “I started to get sick, tested positive for TB, went on medication but ended up falling ill again,” says the auxiliary nurse from the Gold Fields Medical Centre at the Leslie Williams Hospital in Carletonville.

Fortunately, advice from her mother meant that Vicky’s story doesn’t end like so many others. “She thought it was time I had an HIV/Aids test. I was so afraid but I went to my neighbour for counselling and got tested the next day,” she relates. The HIV positive result was unsurprising but no less devastating for that. Vicky’s CD4 count – the measure of her immune system – was just 17 (a healthy person has a CD4 count of between 600 and 1 000).

When I came back to work I told my manager that I was HIV positive and he encouraged me to seek treatment through the Gold Fields ARV programme,” Vicky explains. That was in 2006. Today, she’s living proof that a positive HIV result need not be a death sentence. “My CD4 count is now 826 and my viral load negative, meaning that there is an undetectable amount of virus in my blood,” she says proudly.

Vicky’s path to recovery inspired her to share her story with colleagues and fellow community members. In her work and at home she draws on her own experience to counsel people about the importance of having an HIV test. She’s regularly called upon by Gold Fields to address groups of employees at rallies and Aids Day events.

With opportunistic illnesses behind her, Vicky has clear goals for her future. She hopes to be able to study to become a fully qualified nurse. “I also want to take a formal peer educator course, and join the 1 000 other qualified Gold Fields peer educators.”