Nkosi Johnson


Gail Johnson holds the hand of her foster son, young AIDS activist Nkosi Johnson

The most powerful message can come from the un-likeliest messenger. When Nkosi Johnson, an 11-year-old South African with AIDS, walked onto the stage at an international aids conference in Durban last year, he hardly seemed able to hold the microphone, let alone address 10,000 delegates. The shiny black suit he wore hung from a body ravaged by disease. The belt around his waist had six extra holes punched in it. He wore a diaper in case of diarrhea. Lit by a fearsome spotlight, the tiny figure paused for a few seconds, took a deep breath and began. "Care for us and...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!