Own Your Challenges!

On 11 February, 2019, in Health and Wellness, Training, by Cindy Pivacic

Plodding along in the hope that everything will turn out just fine, is not an option.

If you are faced with challenges, whether physical or emotional, will affect your mental state and jeopardise your ability to function normally.

Facing your challenges or fears is the only way to make practical choices in order to change your circumstances. The question is; how do you do that?

Not everyone has a personality type to cope with challenges on their own so acquiring the valuable and experienced counselling/guidance is paramount to get you through tough times.

If you have been through a traumatic event or face issues at work, or even in  your personal life, the best way to approach it is head-on and as soon as humanly possible.

Over and above my health issues, many years ago I was on holiday and my then husband had my 18 month son in a backpack carrier and decided to get a view of a mountain from a closer viewpoint. He stood up on a low wall overlooking a sheer drop. I freaked, lost the plot and screeched for him to get off the wall. Prior to that I had no issue with heights, little realising how that one incident would affect me for over thirty years.

Once I decided to own and face my fear of heights, I firstly went on a 1,5km Zipline Tour in Ballito, KZN. After a leisurely nature walk to the top of the cliff I was introduced to the “1st in the world” – all new “Parazip” proceeding to slide on a 400m cable from the top of the mountain.  That was around 2014.

I then decided, in 2018 that zip-lining was for sissies, so on World AIDS Day, I proceeded to tandem paraglide off Signal Hill. What a blast and I can honestly say I would do it again.

My life, my choices!

Don’t be ashamed of what you’ve been through or what you’re dealing with.

What are your challenges and what are you doing to defeat them?

There are ways to overcome each and every obstacle; you just need the right tools!

About Cindy: In 2004, Cindy was diagnosed with HIV & AIDS. By 2008 she was subjected to Cancer (stage 3b) and TB Meningitis. Cindy had two Strokes and Shingles, four times in one year. And a hefty bout of Pneumonia… all that in a space of four years. In March 2018 Cindy had a massive heart attack leading to a double bypass.

Forever Mine!

On 11 November, 2018, in HIV & AIDS, World AIDS Day, by Cindy Pivacic

To My Darling Virus,                                                                                     11-11-2018

You and I have travelled a long way together; in fact, you are the longest relationship I have ever had, so firmly attached to me.

I would like to commend you for your perseverance. You gave me uphill for the first four years or so, from 2004 to 2008, but have since pulled yourself together and been understanding and supportive.

We are not only good friends (with me in charge of course) but also intimate companions, who understand, respect and take good care of our ongoing relationship.

May we continue to nurture and maintain our bond in such a way as to grow old together.

Your ever loving host,


It would be very remiss of me if I let this slide, especially after Liezel van der Westhuizen, a speaker colleague, friend, and Mastermind Associate could get so excited on my behalf.


I received an animated phone call saying:


‘Do you know that you are ranked Fourth (4th) on the list of famous motivational speakers in South Africa’?


Needless to say, I hopped straight on to the internet to check it out, lo and behold; there I am on a list of 80 of my peers, who would have thought!


I have no doubt it has a lot to do with the amount of visibility, through marketing, SEO’s and general PR that I have done since going public with my HIV status in 2011. (Diagnosed 2004).


It is however very rewarding to know that your message of HIV awareness is recognised, onwards and upwards.


Thanks again @Liezelv #GiraffeLiezel #Giraffeinthecity, much appreciated for sharing this with me, we as speakers should celebrate each other as candidly as you did as we all have an important messages to share.


Check out the list.


Did YOU know? – Why should YOU know? – Why should YOU share or care?

Why do we have a fear of discussing topics that should not be swept aside?

Is it because we are scared someone will think we have ‘that disease’?

Or….are we are not sufficiently informed, (not even a little bit) and don’t want to be perceived to be ignorant?

Whatever your reason, it is in your family, friends, associates and colleagues best interest to talk about these ‘unmentionable’ matters as it can enlighten and prevent incorrect information from being shared. Don’t go searching ‘Dr. Google’, rather ask someone in the know and then share the information garnered from them.

If you think talking about Cancer or the big ‘C’, as it was referred to in whispered tones way back when is a major no-no, try getting people to talk about HIV and AIDS!

Now that I have mentioned Cancer, can you imagine being diagnosed with HIV in 2004 and diagnosed with AIDS, four years later?

Between 2004 and 2008,  amid being diagnosed HIV positive, was also afflicted with pneumonia, shingles, (Four bouts in a year, extremely painful) two strokes in 2005 and 2006 respectively, which led to being in a coma for two weeks each time, TB Meningitis and Stage 3 Cancer, (Angioimmunoblastic lymphadenopathy).

Shew, you say? Try hiding it that from friends and family out of fear of rejection and judgment, that’s a shew and a half! I did manage to do so for six years before deciding to go public with my status.

Had I known what I know now about the dis-ease and the support I received once I disclosed my status, would have made very different decisions much earlier in my diagnosis as it was quite a nightmare trying to carry the burden of knowing my status and keeping it hidden from everyone.

Each time World AIDS Day comes around I reflect on how complacent, that us, as South Africans have become.

Firstly, we do not recognise HIV & AIDS throughout the year but come 1st December everyone tries to jump on the bandwagon and shove it down everyone’s throat, which in turn makes them sigh and turn a blind eye. Not only that, but there is still so much ignorance and myths perpetrated with a dash of out-of-date medical staff, that we are lagging in support, information and awareness.

Rant over.

In some respects, we have come a long way. We manufacture our own ARV’s, offer PrEP to high-risk individuals (a preventative measure) and are rolling out ATM-like dispensers which have been started in the rural areas due to a shortage of accessible clinics for chronic medication users, which includes ARV dispensing.

Now to ‘dish the dirt’ on me.

I know it sounds blasé, but over time one learns to live with the virus as a ‘normal’ person. There is nothing that can change your status, but everything can be changed by an attitude adjustment. You manage your virus with medication and live a healthy productive life.

Being diagnosed HIV positive at the age of forty-six is not something you want to hear, not at any age in fact.

In 2004 my partner at the time knowingly infected me. I only found this out in 2012 after an interview with Carte Blanche, when a friend of a friend put me in touch with an ex-girlfriend of Wayne’s (I can use his name as it the matter got as far as the roll for High Court which allows public access).

Many people are unaware of the absolute basics of HIV, not only the uninfected but the infected HIV positive individual as well. Sadly until the uninfected become infected they choose to remain oblivious. Here are a few choice pieces of information which I hope provide some basic insight into your HIV head-space.

1.  If you feel you have possibly been exposed to HIV, you have a seventy-two hour period in which to get medical treatment and onto PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) which means taking antiretroviral medicines (ART) to potentially prevent becoming infected.

2.  CD4 count – The CD4 count is like a snapshot of how well your immune system is functioning. CD4 cells (also known as CD4+ T cells) are white blood cells that fight infection. The more you have the better. These are the cells that the HIV virus kills. As HIV infection progresses, the number of these cells declines.

3.  Viral Load – It measures the number of HIV virus particles in a millilitre of your blood. Those particles are also known as “copies.” A low viral load is a sign of the virus copying itself in low amounts in the body. According to AIDS.gov, HIV viral load is typically undetectable below levels of 40–75 copies/mL.

4.  Undetectable = Untransmittable HIV – There are still many people living with HIV that don’t know that if the virus is undetectable, then they cannot transmit the virus to their sexual partners. Undetectable HIV means that the viral load is suppressed and doesn’t show up on blood tests. Note: You are still HIV positive.

We still have a pandemic in South Africa and recent stats have indicated abnormal numbers of new infections:


280, 000 new infections every year.

140, 000 HIV related deaths every year.

Not only do we have these stats, we have the pregnancy figures in schools that are way over acceptable levels with children as young as nine and ten falling pregnant, which, if you think about it, open them up to STI’s as well as HIV.

I have since become a trainer, speaker, and counsellor on HIV and authored two books, titled The Deadly Seducer and Error, Terror & Triumph in order to share more of my HIV journey.

I am pleased to say that even after a massive heart attack in March 2018, resulting in a double bypass (unrelated to my HIV status) I am doing well and at the age of 60, still have much to do so onward and upward I go!

Get tested – Know your status.