HIV/AIDS Activist and Founder of Positive Muslims
Hijri Unknown-Present (AH); Common Era Unknown-Present (CE)
Faghmeda Miller was the first Muslim woman in South Africa to publicly disclose her status as a person infected with HIV.1 Since making that decision soon after her husband died from the disease, she has become an HIV/AIDS activist, focusing specifically on the Muslim community. When she discovered in the mid-1990s that she too was infected, her initial reaction she said was one of shame. “The first thing that went through my mind,” she says in an interview with South African non-profit Positive Heroes, “was the shame I had brought on my family. I, therefore decided to keep this information to myself, after all it wouldn’t be long till I die.”2 Faghmeda said she did not realize the possibility for people infected with HIV to lead full, productive lives, a message she now actively shares with others. Learning the facts about HIV and AIDS has been a transformative experience for Faghmeda who claims in her life, her attitude, and even her personality changed. In the process, she said she found the courage to battle the stigma attached to infection, even announcing her status on community radio. In 2000, Faghmeda founded Positive Muslims, an organization that provides emotional and psychological support as well as workshops and train to those infected with HIV/AIDS as well as their families. In the same year, she was given Femina magazine’s “Women of Courage” award for her work. In addition to working with the organization she founded, she does home counseling and does television, radio, newspaper, and magazine interviews to support HIV/AIDS awareness. She was also the subject of the documentary The Malawian Kiss directed by Akiedah Mohammed.  Positive Heroes.  ibid.