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Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 November, 2004, 18:26 GMT
'I'm healthy as an ox!'
Last December, as part of the BBC's series on Aids, people living with HIV from around the world told their own stories in their own words. Here, one year on, they tell us how their lives have changed since.

Mally and his foster son, Fanikie
Mally maintains that a positive attitude is everything

Mally, 53, lives near the town of Nelspruit in South Africa. Last year he told us about his full life with his Swazi foster child Fanikie. One year on, he updates us on the past twelve months.

Things have at worst remained the same, although I can say that life is generally improving both for my foster son Fanikie and I.

Our home now feels like home, a good place to be - comfortable.

My garden is now honestly a treat to be in thanks to a friend, an incredible nurseryman, who lets me buy so many special plants at cost.

I am healthy as an ox!

I have lost a little weight, but this I attribute to the hefty garden work.

My medications have remained the same since diagnosis.

I am sure it will change some day, but for now, it ain't broke so why fix it.

My HAART medications are perfectly suited for me as the last blood work I had done proves: CD4 960 and Viral Load <50 (undetectable).

Brazilian Iris growing in Mally's garden

I never skip my medications and still maintain that a positive attitude does as much as medication, if not more for one's state of health.

I now smoke less than 40 a day so not as heavily as before (60 per day).

I would love to give up and stay off them though.

Loss of a friend

Sadly I lost an inspirational friend to Aids this year.

My friend Maria was a simple yet uncomplicated, hard-working and grateful African woman - one that would melt into an African market, not stand out, yet one that was so much bigger, wiser and more capable than anyone I have ever known.

One day we shall sit on empty Coca-Cola crates in Heaven and continue chatting, but until then I will strive to emulate her perfect example.

I have made phenomenal friendships through the net.

Freda in Canada is a genuine angel and we correspond almost daily. Mike from Arkansas is also a dear friend.

As is Heidi, Bob, Rou, Jackie, Margaret, UK Steve, Texas Steve, Jeanne in Montana and Clive from Johannesburg.

We talk about all the things that affect our lives, whether HIV-related or not.

We share and support each other like one great big digital family.

They unconditionally accept me, warts and all, and we have plans to meet in Canada in 2006 for the HIV/Aids conference.

Realising our dreams

The only fly in the ointment is how I will get the money for mine and Fanikie's ticket!

Fanikie remains the apple of my eye. He gives me so much love and support.

Fanikie's girlfriend often visits and we have a ball, cooking and watching TV.

Life is wonderful and my little family, as odd as it may seem to many, is just perfect for us.

We are still trying so very hard to win our National Lottery as it is the only way that we will ever get to travel and realise our dreams.

But should that never happen we have tomorrow and the unknown blessing that comes along with it, always unique and always exciting.

Send your reaction to Mally's piece using the form below.

Daily, I am given strength by this man's compassion, strength, and courage. God Bless you, my dear friend. And on World Aids Day, a small prayer for all those who have gone before and taught us well. God help us find a cure now. And help us build a world, in which no one dies alone, and where everyone lives, accepted, wanted and loved. I love you, my Mally.
Freda, Toronto, Canada

Mally is an inspiration to all who know him. His love for life is contagious as is his wit and charm. I'm proud to be his friend.
Steve Hamilton, Amarillo, TX, USA

Hi Mally, I see that you are doing well. I do not have Aids but last year I lost two good friends to it. I am a little scared to take the test since they say that you don't know if you have it until five to ten years.
Gabino, Panama

Touching and inspirational. Despite difficult circumstances, Mally sounds like a truly happy person. Many of us have a lot to learn from people like him. I hope he wins the lottery!
Ron, Mannheim, Germany

Mally, I must say thanks for your understanding of human nature, mostly concerning the deadly killer Aids. You are the one with a wonderful heart, people can say all kinds of words about your condition but one thing is for sure, you are such a good one by encouraging people with Aids around the world not to lose hope. My regards to Fanikie and his girlfriend. May the good lord continue to strengthen you people.
Simeon Nnaji, Imo State, Nigeria

Thank you for sharing your inspirational story with the world. I last read about your story last year and was wondering how everything was coming along for both you and your adopted son. I am happy to hear that you are keeping good spirits. Always remember in everything that we seek in life we first must ask God and believe only the almighty makes all things that are impossible possible. God bless, peace, love and happiness and have faith that you will win the lottery.
Marcia James, New York, USA

Just to say to Mally, please never falter in your positivity. You have been dealt a hard hand but we all admire the way you deal with it. Your courage is an inspiration. I can only hope I can feel the same if ever dealt a similar hand.
Rachel Phillips, London, England

I was totally inspired to read your story. We hear so many negative stories from South Africa about people living with HIV/Aids. I am a South African living in the UK and was touched by your story but at the same time filled with admiration at your positive attitude. I hope you and Fanikie manage to get to Canada in 2006. Good luck and I hope you keep strong and in good spirits.
Mel Clarke, Leeds, UK

I am proud to be known as a friend of Mally! He is such an inspiration and a good pick-me-up when things don't go well! I have had the privilege of visiting Mally and Fanikie in Nelspruit where I have enjoyed such great hospitality and love.
Clive, Johannesburg, South Africa

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