Positively Aware, Current HIV news magazine

Positively Aware, The HIV News Journal published by the Test Positive Aware Network

POSITIVELY AWARE November/December 2011

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Whether you’re positive or negative, we all live with HIV. That’s the point raised by A Day with HIV in America, Positively Aware’s photo essay project aimed at confronting the stigma of HIV. Dozens of images were submitted from across the U.S.—and from Canada—as people took snapshots to a capture a moment of their lives on Sept. 21 to mark A Day with HIV, now in its second year.

Some people took a simple self-portrait. Others used the photo opportunity to make a point or tell a story. In New York, HIV/AIDS educator Jack Mackenroth spent A Day with HIV wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with the word Positive.

“It was an interesting experience to see how I felt and how others reacted,” Mackenroth said. “I believe that visibility is the key to fighting the stigma of HIV. I had the photo taken by a complete stranger in a very public place on purpose to force them to question the word and what it meant.”

In Orlando, at a national convention of her church, the Rev. Andrena Ingram wore a shirt that said, HIV Positive. There were 2,000 attendees for lunch. “As I walked through the crowd, eyes saw me, then glanced away,” said the HIV-positive pastor from Philadelphia.

More than one person used their picture to publicly reveal their status. “Today, I hope that I can challenge stigma and the isolating, silencing attitudes. By being an example, I can start to erode misconceptions and dismantle stigma,” said Susanna.

Others spoke in more quiet voices, but the moments they shared were no less powerful: A young man celebrating his first birthday since discovering he is HIV-positive. An HIV-positive, single mother wishing her son good night. A 26-year survivor injecting himself with insulin to fight the diabetes brought on by his HIV. Two friends—one positive, the other, negative—sharing a kiss. Compelling moments in everyday lives. That’s what a day with HIV is.

Photo submissions will be posted to the project’s website, www.adaywithhiv.com.

—Rick Guasco

9:15 AM, Austin, TX | The staff of the Wright House Wellness Center, an AIDS service organization: “We are a diverse group of people brought together by our passion to serve people living with HIV and those at-risk. We love our work and value each other.”

7:30 AM, WASHINGTON, DC | Cyber activist Justin B Terry-Smith, HIV-positive since 2005, fights HIV with his children’s book, I Have a Secret, his video blog “Justin’s HIV Journal,” and by taking his HIV meds.

6:00 AM, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada | Donald Smith, training for the Ironman Hawaii.

8:00 AM, Indiana | Kenneth, “This is the first time I have ever submitted a picture of myself acknowledging to the world that I live with HIV. This is my daily routine: waking up and looking into my pill box.”

9:30 AM, PompANO BEACH, FL | Kristine Koffler: “I met my companion Michael O’Brien six months ago. I have been HIV-positive for 12 years. He is negative. We are working to keep it that way.”

10:20 AM, New Bedford, CT | Richard Ferri, PhD, ANP, ACRN, FAAN: “I am an HIV-positive AIDS primary care specialist practicing at the Greater New Bedford Community Health Center. The only thing we use a red ribbon for is a tourniquet. A day in my life is simple: gym, prayer, work.”

10:30 AM, Vacaville, CA | Amanda Proctor and her partner adopted Phillip this year: “[Phillip’s] bio-mother was infected during pregnancy and he showed up positive at 6 months old. He is now almost 2 and has been undetectable and as healthy as can be since the beginning of this year. We wanted to submit a picture of him to show that children in the U.S. are still being born HIV-positive .”

11:22 AM, Chicago | David C. Parker: “I’m 47, and have been positive for 17 years. I look at it as a blessing, as it’s taught me so much about myself, other people, and life. One of the big lessons I've learned is to capture every moment and take advantage of everything life has to offer. You never know what's right around the corner!  Keeping active is one of the keys to staying healthy. I love to sail, figure skate, and play volleyball.”

10:30 AM, Chicago | Illinois State Representative Greg Harris, who is HIV-positive, attending a hearing of the Insurance Exchange Legislative committee.

12:10 PM, Orlando, FL | Rev. Andrena Ingram, HIV-positive, attending a luncheon at a church conference with over 2,000 participants: “As I moved through the crowd, eyes saw me, and then glanced away. HIV is alive and well, and in your midst.”

2:00 PM, New York | Jayson Conner: “The sky’s the limit!”

11:13 AM, Dallas | Velietta Dickens Rogers: “This is what I do to keep me going. I enjoy being around other artists. I am self-taught, and won two art contests this year. I found The Stewpot Art Program in downtown Dallas, and it has brought me out of the seclusion of my house, where I had been for 18 years (after being diagnosed with AIDS). Learning to live around others with no shame about my status has made all the difference.”

1:53 PM, San Francisco | Suzanne, Jim, and Mathew at Magnet, the lab of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation’s gay men’s health center. Magnet conducts thousands of HIV and STD tests a year in addition to holding numerous community events.

1:30 PM, Oshawa, Ontario, Canada | Mark Hammann, putting up a “Libido Insurance” HIV awareness campaign poster outside the AIDS Committee of Durham Region (ACDR): “I was diagnosed with AIDS in 1997 and went on U.S. disability for 10 years before moving to Canada. Since 2007 I’ve been working at the ACDR where I am manager of education services. My health is stable and I’m happy to be working in the fight against this pandemic.”

4:17 PM, New York | Warren Tong takes a break from his work as associate editor of TheBody.com.

4:00 PM, Los Angeles | Black Treatment Advocates Network: “BTAN Los Angeles is guided by the premise that when people understand the science of HIV, they are less likely to participate in stigmatizing behavior, more likely to get treatment, better able to adhere to their regimens, and better positioned to influence policy.”

2:00 PM, Atlanta | José Quiles, HIV-negative: “This is me at work at Pride Medical in Atlanta. I am blessed to have a job that I love. While it is far from glamorous, I get to help people in their fight against HIV. I also get to educate them and help fight the stigma associated with being HIV-positive. I asked my co-worker to take a shot at me working with a patient. I try to make a difference every day.”

4:30 PM Cincinnati, OH | Mark Hayden: “Walking my buddy Sammy helps relieve the stress of work and grad school.”

5:10 PM, Los Angeles | The staff of the Magic Johnson Foundation: “We are on the cusp of celebrating the 20th anniversary, on Nov. 7, of Magic’s HIV announcement and the founding of MJF.

5:00 PM, Phoenix | Isaac, born
HIV-positive (and with a currently
undetectable viral load), makes a splash.

5:23 PM, Chicago | Donté (aka DJ Masisi), HIV-positive since 2009, sneaks a bite of basil flowers in his garden.

5:00 PM, Largo, Florida | Priscilla McCarthy with her husband Gregory celebrating their tenth anniversary: “We moved to Florida in Sept. 2000. My husband proposed to me later that year and we started planning a wedding. Ten days after 9/11, we were married on a local dinner cruise and honeymooned locally.”

7:00 PM, New York | Jack Mackenroth, HIV-positive: “I wore that shirt for the entire day. I believe that visibility is the key to fighting the stigma of HIV. I had the photo taken by a complete stranger in a very public place on purpose to force them to question the word and what it meant.
I felt proud.”

5:30 PM, Eugene, OR | Cree Gordon, 26, has been HIV-positive for more than six years; his friend Mathias is negative: “I call my picture, ‘Opposites Attract.’ Though we are not together, we are good friends and I came up with the idea to show that caring about someone with HIV should not be scary.”

5:30 PM, Wilton Manors, FL | Dab Garner, HIV-positive 29 years, is an AIDS activist and creator of Dab the AIDS Bear. He also volunteers at Fusion @ Wilton Manors, an LGBT organization.

7:26 PM, Costa Mesa, CA | Ian-Mathew Alvarez; “This picture of me (shaved head), my husband Travis, and my mom Rosie was taken at a lounge called The Tin Lizzie Saloon. Both Travis and I are positive. My mom and whole family are very supportive and adore us, so we chose to include her in the photo.”

5:50 PM, The Bronx, New York | Susanna waits for the train home after a long day working at a city hospital psychiatric unit in the Bronx: “I love the phrase, ‘Learn Acting’ in the background. Having HIV and not being public about it sometimes feels like I am acting. Sadly, stigma exists. Today I hope that by being a powerful example, I can start to erode misconceptions and dismantle stigma by standing up and saying this is a day with HIV in America.”

10:45 PM, Durham, NC | Ron Hudson, HIV-positive 26 years, injects himself with insulin to fight the diabetes he acquired at age 40 while taking ARVs: “As more and more of us survive longer, we are dealing with other issues beyond HIV.” Hudson’s friend, Thomas Sherratt, took this photo.

8:00 PM, Oklahoma City | Cody rides the Sizzler at the Oklahoma State Fair, celebrating his 26th birthday. This was his first birthday since learning that he is HIV-positive.

9:12 PM, Lee’s Summit, MO | Dona Lackey: “This picture was taken while telling my son goodnight. I am an HIV-positive single mom. My son was born prior to my pozitivity.”

11:00 PM, Salem, OR | Jonathan Reitan, HIV-positive for more than five years, finds comfort from the fatigue and dizziness brought on by his daily meds in the arms of his lover, Jonathon Broadwater, who is HIV-negative.

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