JOHANNESBURG, South Africa – Nkosi Johnson, a boy who was born with HIV and became an outspoken champion of others infected with the AIDS virus, died Friday of the disease he battled for all 12 of his years.
Nkosi was praised for his openness about his infection in a country where people suspected of carrying the AIDS virus often are shunned by their families and chased from their communities. Former South African President Nelson Mandela called him an ``icon of the struggle for life.''
``Children, such as Nkosi Johnson, should be enjoying a life filled with joy and laughter and happiness,'' Mandela said in a recent statement. ``On a frightening scale, HIV/AIDS is replacing that joy, laughter and happiness with paralyzing pain and trauma.''