Thula Mkhize (34) is the face of Right ePharmacy’s new Collect & Go medicine dispensing programme which has removed the obstacles preventing patients from collecting their monthly medicine. This innovative programme allows patients to collect their monthly medicine through a Collect & Go smart locker system, making it easy, quick, and convenient. These Collect & Go smart lockers are being set up in Gauteng, the Free State and Mpumalanga.
Thula, who is living with HIV, is a well-established advocate for change and for nearly ten years he has been working to improve mental and physical wellbeing amongst South Africans, with a focus on bringing about social wellness in communities and challenging stigma around HIV.
In his role as brand ambassador for Collect & Go, Thula describes himself as an adherence champion. “Collecting and taking your monthly medicine is not something onerous, it is a gift that frees you to live, work, play with your kids, take part in sport and socialise.”
Thula’s journey began in 2009 when he was diagnosed HIV positive. Fearing he was going to die, he embarked on a voyage of discovery and learning, reaching out to people living with HIV and looking for answers to the many questions that he had about HIV. At that time, HIV was steeped in stigma. “I met people who had been living with HIV for many years – amazing people who were living their lives to the full beyond their ‘negative’ circumstances,” says Thula.
This journey resulted in the start of the Good Stories campaign in December 2010, a powerful initiative that began changing the way people view and experience HIV/Aids to create more HIV-friendly communities. He travelled across South Africa, visiting schools, universities and prisons, telling and creating good stories.
Thula joined forces with his twin brother, Ntokozo Mkhize, to expand his efforts and in 2017 the pair were recognised as Lead SA Heroes. This year, they were honoured with the Dira Sengwe Leadership Awards at the 9th SA AIDS Conference in Durban.
Thula holds a Bachelor of Commerce Degree in Financial Economics and Supply Chain Management from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, a Management Development Programme certificate and has completed several postgraduate leadership and consulting courses.
He is married with three children, and says his family are the centre of his life.