This Young Woman Revealed She Had HIV On Twitter And People Were So Supportive

"I disclosed to give hope to people living with HIV, and to show those who are HIV+ that there is life after diagnosis."

This is Saidy Brown. She is 22 years old and lives in Itsoseng in South Africa.

Saidy Brown / Via Twitter: @saidy_brown

Brown has HIV, and last week she decided to share her story on Twitter.

Saidy Brown / Via Twitter: @saidy_brown

People were inspired by her bravery, and the tweet went viral.

Twitter / @itsAdeRose
Twitter / @keletso92994474
Twitter / @Tebogo_M3

Brown told BuzzFeed News she first found out she was HIV+ after taking a test during a school event. She was 14 at the time.

"Initially, I wanted to cry, I was so scared, I mean I was only 14," she said. "I kept it a secret, and only told my aunt six months later, who confirmed that I got it from my parents."

Both of her parents died from HIV but she did not learn this until she was diagnosed.

"I pushed the thought of me living with HIV to the back of my mind," she said. "I never thought about it, until four years later when I was 18 and I was deteriorating, I had these nasty sores on my neck and face, I went to the clinic to check if they could like give me an ointment to treat them, that was when they reminded me that I had tested positive for HIV, and that my health was deteriorating, I needed to start treatment."

Brown now takes antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) to control the symptoms of her illness. "ARVs allow me to live a normal life," she said.

Saidy Brown

"I have always wanted to contribute in the fight against HIV," she said. "I disclosed to give hope to people living with HIV, and to show those who are HIV+ that there is life after diagnosis."

Twitter / @cgtnafrica

"Initially it generated a lot of anger in me, but right now it has changed me, made me love life even more and just see the light in everything," she said.

While some people have made negative comments, Brown said she ignores them and focuses on the positive response.

Saidy Brown

"People have been very amazing and supportive," she said. "I have been fortunate enough to be in the presence of such wonderful people. Sometimes I get strangers who cry, or even end up telling me about their stories, which is cool.

"[On Twitter] I have felt so much love...such warmth. I feel like I personally know all these people. Personally, I feel good, I always feel great after disclosing."

She says she hopes to pursue a career in the media and continue working to end the stigma around HIV.

Saidy Brown / Via Twitter: @saidy_brown



A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.