Tonight with Lester Podcast

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Guest : Barbara Kingsley

Who finds out they have HIV and then starts running ultra marathons? An accomplished
athlete, maybe. But Barbara Kingsley had never run before testing positive almost two
decades ago. Coming to terms with her diagnosis proved to be the motivation the
paralegal secretary needed to complete both the Comrades Marathon and the Two
Oceans Ultra Marathon.
Kingsley discovered she was HIV positive in 2000, a time when information was scarce
but stigma was rife. Despite thinking she would die soon after, she showed no sign of
illness for eight years. Her initial good health fuelled her denial and refusal of
medication.
But in 2008, her CD4 count plummeted to 86 and she had to be hospitalised. Barely able
to move, Kingsley finally began taking ARVs. Within two weeks, her strength grew and
she couldn’t wait to start doing the things she had previously taken for granted. Running
from one lamp pole to the next, she built up the strides until she reached the fivekilometre
mark. Then 10 kilometres. Then 15.
Since coming out of denial and working with her status, Kingsley’s physical and
emotional health has improved. Living openly as an HIV-positive person, she runs as
part of the Positive Heroes team to raise awareness. As the world acknowledges World
AIDS Day, Kingsley remains proof of the importance of getting tested, starting treatment
and realising your potential to live a full life.

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