Muluba Habanyama, 24, 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.
While studying journalism, Muluba soon realized her own story was worth sharing and that she had nothing to be ashamed of. In late 2014, Muluba disclosed her status in a five-minute video titled Feel No Shame online. A natural in front of the camera, Muluba was subsequently interviewed by national media, and featured in a number of articles.
Muluba is now a freelance journalist who has her own blog, and she has worked at CBC and written for MTV, FLARE, and more. Like many twenty-something year-olds, she is figuring out life as it comes. While CANFAR is turning 30 this year, Muluba will be turning 25.
Muluba’s story includes themes of resilience, self-care, leadership, and empowering others in the face of adversity. In her role as the Canadian Foundation for AIDS Research’s National Youth Ambassador, Muluba educates, engages, and empowers youth across CANFAR’s awareness program One and All. One and All is generously funded by the Slaight Family Foundation, M.A.C. AIDS Fund, and Great-West Life, London Life, and Canada Life.