South African woman whose radio diary reached millions dies from complications of HIV + MDR-TB

12 June 2009 -- Cape Town, South Africa -- Thembi Ngubane, aged 24, died last week in a public hospital of complications from multi-drug resistant tuberculosis. Thembi, who was living with HIV, was known to millions around the world through broadcasts of her audio diary, which were recorded in 2006 with the help of Joe Richman, an independent radio producer from the United States.

"Thembi thought the virus should be scared of her, rather than the other way around," writes Richman, in his eulogy to her, published on the National Public Radio web site. "And one of the first things Thembi recorded for her radio diary — in which she chronicled for a year her experience of living with AIDS — was what she called her 'HIV Prayer.'

"Hello, HIV, you trespasser, you are in my body," she said. "You have to obey the rules."

All told Thembi recorded 50 hours of diary entries over the course of a year.

She leaves behind a four-year old daughter, her partner, her mother, two sisters and a brother.