STIGMA and discrimination are bigger killers than HIV itself, says a Youth Volunteer Award recipient.
Tavaita Senikaucava was one of the recipients at the National Volunteer Awards on Wednesday night.
Ms Senikaucava, an advocate for the fight against HIV at the Fiji Network Plus, has been living with the virus for eight years.
The 32-year-old is also a widow and a mother of three.
Ms Senikaucava said she was one of those ignorant people who never thought it could happen to her.
She said the only thing she remembered that day was the doctor telling her about her results.
"I felt lost and I cried my heart out that day," said Ms Senikaucava.
"My partner was alive then so it became our little secret and we supported each other."
Ms Senikaucava said everything went well for a while until her partner died in 2008.
"It was after my partner died that I realised that I was all alone and a single mother of three children," she said.
"I did not know what to do and I dealt with my situation in a very negative way."
Ms Senikaucava said one of the reasons she could not tell her family and friends about being HIV positive was because of the stigma and discrimination.
"I thought my family would abandon me once they came to know about my sickness," she said.
Ms Senikaucava said it was only last year when she finally realised that she could not live her life like that anymore.
"I had to try and get my life back together and be a good mother and a good person," she said.
"I would not let HIV control me anymore."
"After my partner's death, I finally got the courage to go to clinics," she said.
Ms Senikaucava said she finally gained the courage to talk to her parents and family about her sickness.
She said her family and friends accepted and supported her.
Ms Senikaucava said people needed to realise that HIV was real and one of the main modes of transmission was unprotected sex.