POSITIVELY AWARE November/December 2011
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.”