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June 15 @ 12:45 pm 1:15 pm EDT

Muluba Habanyama is resilient. Born in Middlesex, England to Zambian parents, Muluba moved to Canada when she was a toddler. Test results after a health scare revealed that Muluba was born with HIV, contracted from her parents who were unknowingly infected and passed it on.

Muluba was raised to keep her HIV a secret – a common decision by many people living with HIV. As a child and teen, this was both confusing and alienating, as she didn’t understand what she did wrong. Her feeling of isolation was further heightened after losing both her parents to HIV related complications. Devastated, Muluba stopped taking care of herself and lost sight of the value of life. As someone living with HIV, her daily medical regimen was key to her health and survival. Her viral loads climbed dangerously, and her immune system declined to nearly nonexistent. Muluba’s health was at an all-time low and if continued this way, could result in death.

Determined to recuperate, refocus, and ultimately recover, Muluba took charge. She physically and mentally recovered her health. Ultimately, she decided she would give herself the best chance at life. Muluba’s story is one of resilience, self-care, leadership, and empowering others in the face of adversity.