In 1992, Ms Mabele became one of the first women living with HIV in South Africa to disclose her status. Ms Mabele said she disclosed her status because she was tired of the silence and stigma surrounding HIV. She wanted to set a precedent and encourage other women living with HIV to discuss their status with loved ones, to live without shame, to seek treatment and to lead happy and fulfilled lives.
Ms Mabele championed the cause of the greater involvement of people living with HIV. At a time when treatment was just beginning to be available, she was a driving force in addressing issues around stigma and discrimination. Ms Mabele was passionate about the need to organize and support women living with HIV.
She was also a founding member of the Treatment Action Campaign, founder and Executive Director of the Positive Women’s Network (PWN) and a founding member of the Pan African Positive Women’s Network. PWN set out to improve the quality of life of people living with HIV, providing a support network and platform for women to articulate their feelings and needs regarding their HIV status and ultimately to design positive projects for themselves.
Ms Mabele had been a very close friend of UNAIDS for a long time. Ms Mabele collaborated with UNAIDS in raising awareness about women living with HIV and their needs, and graced the cover the UNAIDS flagship publication OUTLOOK. She previously worked as a staff member with the UNAIDS South Africa Country Office and continued to be closely associated with UNAIDS over the years.
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