Infected & Affected: An HIV Stigma Project
INFECTED & AFFECTED: AN HIV/AIDS Project Confronting Stigma (2008-2009)
In August 2008 and July 2009, I photographed nearly 900 people from 83 countries who attended the XVII International AIDS Conference in Mexico City and the 5th IAS Conference in HIV Pathogenesis Treatment and Prevention Conference in Cape Town, South Africa. I set up studios in the conference centers and I photographed people that were HIV positive and HIV negative reacting to the stigma that surrounds HIV/AIDS. .
I call this project INFECTED & AFFECTED. I asked each of the participants to convey through physical gestures how he or she would fight, communicate love and express the sadness that surrounds HIV/AIDS. When a community is stigmatized and discriminated against, it creates a sense of shame, isolation and fear, and it silences individuals. Stigma can be as deadly as the virus itself hampering awareness and education.
It is the diverse responses from the participants and the intensity of the emotions that captivate the viewer. In each photograph, one sees the distinctive nature of the subject's clothing, ethnicity and gender, as well as his or her specific reaction to the questions being asked.