“You just always need to know that you’re not alone and you can overcome it.
I’ve overcome some great medical obstacles and yet I’m still here, healthy and well-liked in school.”Murphy has spoken at We Day events in Toronto, Montreal, Chicago, Seattle and San Jose.
She caught the attention of Nelson Mandela’s grandson, Kweku Mandela, who asked her to speak in March at the UNAIDS Gala in Geneva, Switzerland.
And on June 4, she and her adoptive mom, Kari Murphy, spoke at the CANFAR (Canadian Foundation for AIDS Research) Can YOU Do Lunch event in Toronto, an annual fundraiser for HIV/AIDS research.
Born with HIV, two Toronto-area residents Muluba Habanyama and Ashley Murphy are sharing their stories determined to reduce the stigma, raise awareness and eradicate mother-to-child transmission of the virus.
For much of her life, Muluba Habanyama has lived with a painful secret that filled her with shame.
It was a powerful wake-up call.“I just started to love myself and wanted people to know the truth.
He was visibly shaken as he watched her take her daily dose of medicine, she says. After her mother’s death in 2012, Habanyama, who was 19 at the time, fell into a deep depression.
And, she’s a public speaker for the Network and has been invited to speak by other organizations, including the Ontario HIV Treatment Network.
At age 2, shortly after immigrating to Canada from England with her mother and sister — her mom fled an abusive and unfaithful husband — Habanyama became ill.
On that fateful day in December — World AIDS Day — she stepped up to the microphone…“It’s so amazing (connecting with others),” she says.
“It’s really the most incredible thing because you hear the most incredible stories and you just feel so empowered, like you can change the world.”Ashley Murphy was never shy about telling people she was born with HIV — neighbours, teachers, classmates, even new friends in the playground were supportive.
A battery of tests revealed both she and her mom had HIV, which can cause acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).