Staying positive in a pandemic with Discovery
Sameshni Moodley is a healthy-living ambassador for people living with HIV, or in fact, any virus. She hasn’t let lockdown stop her from staying fit and healthy to manage her condition.
When she was diagnosed with HIV in 2008, Sameshni Moodley thought life as she knew it was over. But her positive attitude and healthy lifestyle turned things around for her. Today she is a fitness fanatic who climbed Kilimanjaro to celebrate a decade of living well with HIV.
“Coming to terms with my status initially was one of the most experiences of my life. I felt lost, confused, alone, and scared. The reality is that HIV doesn’t discriminate, it affects us ALL irrespective of age, gender, race, sexual preference or social affluence,” she says.
Finding herself on a wayward path, Sameshni turned her life around with help from Discovery, the HIV Care Programme and Vitality. “I called Discovery Care and spoke to a supportive and knowledgeable case manager, Fiona, who provided me with all the information I needed at that time,” she says.
She also became fully engaged with Vitality in the last ten years and exercises six days a week. “HIV doesn’t have to stop you from living a long, happy, active and fulfilling life. We can live healthy, long lives with the current treatment available,” she says.
Nothing will stop her from moving more
Sameshni says she stuck to her routine during lockdown. “In fact, I have remained on Diamond status in lockdown!” she says. “Even though Vitality had reduced the maximum Vitality Active Rewards goal to 300 during the initial stay-at-home period, I still tried to maintain my 900 points goals.”
“It was a challenge being at home and not having friends and family around. We are social beings and need human connection. But exercise, healthy eating and the taking care of my mental health allowed me to adapt and get through on the tough days,” she says.
She says continuing to eat healthily has also been in her plan. “I use my 56% HealthyFood benefit through Pick n Pay to ensure that I am getting my daily fruit and vegetable intake. I’ve enjoyed the Vitality-At-Home channel, especially the healthy cooking demos to get inspired to make different healthy meals at home,” she says.
The rewards keep coming
“My HealthyGear benefit encourages me to maintain my very active lifestyle and reach my weekly Vitality Active Rewards goals, so that I get my maximum return on the Device Booster benefit for my Garmin watch, which I activated this year though Team Vitality.”
“I also joined Discovery Bank to boost my Vitality rewards and the Discovery Miles I’ve earned are better even better than diamonds,” she says. “I also managed to save money on my data and pre-paid electricity through Discovery Bank.”
Sameshni says she will continue with her Vitality lifestyle no matter what. “I plan to celebrate my 40th birthday next year by running my first Comrades marathon. I really want to share the message of hope and encouragement that nothing is impossible. In October, it marked 12 years since I was diagnosed with HIV and I have not allowed the virus – or any other – to own me!”
“I want to give hope to others living with HIV”
“Twelve years ago, I never thought I’d be in the position that I’m in today – happier and healthier than ever. I believe everything in life happens for a reason, and sometimes you need to struggle to learn and embrace what’s really important. The struggle is what makes you stronger,” Sameshni says.
One thing she’s learned is that everyone recovers and overcomes challenges in their own way. “As a ‘positive’ person, I want to make sure that others facing the same struggles as me do not feel alone and don’t go through what I did. I want to take my experience and share my knowledge. I live to inspire and motivate those people who are affected and infected, living with HIV.”
“This may sound like an unusual statement but I am grateful to HIV as it has made me stronger and healed me in so many other areas of my life, through the help and support of therapists and a coach,” she says.
Her advice to people living with HIV? “Remember that you are not alone, ask for the support of family and friends and you may be surprised by their reactions. I am just an ordinary woman who turned her life around, and you can do it too! You have everything within to deal with whatever you are faced with in life.”
“HIV is not a death sentence,” she adds. “We can live healthy, long lives with the current treatment available. HIV doesn’t have to stop you from living a long, happy, active and fulfilling life.
She concludes with a quote that often encourages her to keep going: “Hardship often prepares ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.”
This World Aids Day is a good time to think about the steps we can take to stop the spread of sexually transmitted infections, specifically HIV. No matter your HIV status, it’s important that you always wrap up to protect yourself and your partner.
Never in his wildest dreams did 28-year-old Wade Schaerer think he'd become a prominent HIV/Aids activist and vocal campaigner, conveying a vital, universal message pertinent to every South African.
Discovery Health Medical Scheme, registration number 1125, administered by Discovery Health (Pty) Ltd, registration number 1997/013480/07, an authorised financial services provider and administrator of medical schemes. Vitality is a separate wellness product, sold and administered by Discovery Vitality (Pty) Ltd, registration number 1999/007736/07. Limits, terms and conditions apply.