Nkosi Johnson: Biography of the child campaigner who changed South Africa

Biography of Nkosi Johnson

Nkosi Johnson died of HIV/AID in 2001 when he was only 12 years old.

He was born with the virus in Johannesburg, South Africa.

At the time of his death, Nkosi was the longest-surviving child born with HIV.

Nkosi’s mum was also HIV positive and became too ill to look after him, so he was adopted by a public relations officer from an AIDS care centre.

In 1997, when Nkosi was just eight years old, his name became known when a local primary school near where he lived refused to take him as a pupil. It was because of his infection.

It caused huge political issues for South Africa, which forced changes to the law there. New anti-discrimination policies were put in place and that stopped children being banned from schools based on their health.

After the law changed, the school allowed Nkosi in and he started to campaign for other children with AIDS.

His step mother also helped him set up Nkosi’s Haven. It’s a non-government organisation helping to support mothers and children whose lives have been impacted by HIV and Aids.

As a result of his campaigning Nkosi became a key-note speaker at the International Aids conference in 2000 when he was just 11.

Nkosi died one-year later. Four years after that, to honour his efforts to raise awareness of the disease, the International Children’s Peace Prize was created.

Since Nkosi’s death there have been positive changes in trying to create a more accepting South Africa.