Positively Aware, Current HIV news magazine

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

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egun in 2010 as “A Day with HIV in America,” Positively Aware’s photo campaign focused on stigma in the U.S. From the start, however, there were photo submissions that made us realize that people everywhere are dealing with HIV with the same hope and determination. A Day with HIV is about breaking down boundaries—between positive and negative, straight and gay. It only made sense to transcend national borders, too.

Utilizing social media, A Day with HIV spread the word: Grab your digital camera or smartphone, capture a moment of your day on Sept. 21, and share your story with the world.

Nearly 175 photos were taken that day. In addition to the U.S., pictures came from Australia, Brazil, Canada, England, Germany, New Zealand, Scotland, South Africa, Uruguay, and the island of Cyprus. In fact, the first photo arrived via email, less than 90 minutes into A Day with HIV (Chicago time) from Ji Wallace, the Australian Olympic athlete who had only recently come out as HIV-positive.

What makes so many of the pictures taken on A Day with HIV so powerful are the words that illustrate the images. It’s the story behind the photo that makes the image so compelling. For a young man in Kansas, the words “A Day with HIV” are all too literal: he has just tested positive. But he’s already begun educating himself about what he needs to know and is about to begin treatment; he’s actually more concerned about easing his mother’s worries for his health. In his picture, the only thing visible is his t-shirt, bearing the words: “I am awesome.”

We might come from different places, different walks of life, but on Sept. 21, we saw that people are the same. They have hope, determination, and dignity. That’s A Day with HIV.

Visit www.adaywithhiv.com to see the full photo set.

7:30 AM: Houston, Texas. Robert W.: “My morning pill, which I’m taking as part of a clinical trial. Each day I remember the people who went before me, took experimental drugs, knocked on the White House door, and called attention to those pushed aside.”

10:15 AM: San Francisco. David Duran practices his daddy skills with his best friend’s son at the beach. “Today is just like any other day. I’m living my life and enjoying spending time with my loved ones. One day soon, I hope to have a child, and raise him or her in a world without HIV or the stigma that surrounds it.”

8:30 AM: Norton, Ohio.Michael Vatilla: “Every day, I swallow hundreds of dollars of medication that, without help from government-assisted drug programs, I would not be able to afford. I know there are others not so fortunate. Something needs to be done to make meds more accessible to everyone.”

7:58 AM: Chicago Kevin Irvine: “Dropping my daughter off at school. She loves first grade, but not smiling on cue for a picture! When I came to terms with having HIV 23 years ago, I thought I would never have the chance to be a dad.”

8:00 AM: San FranciscoDennis Vaughn, who is HIV-positive, gets his day started with his service dog Buster Bear. Says Dennis, “Having Buster is essential. He gets me out of the house and reminds me to play
as well.”

10:15 AM: Los Angeles. For the employees of AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA), every day is A Day with HIV. “Our job descriptions are so varied, it would take forever to list them all. But at the end of the day, all of us have chosen to dedicate our days to the fight against HIV. This is a photo of us taken in front of the APLA’s headquarters, wearing our Team APLA shirts that we wear every Friday in support of AIDS Walk Los Angeles.” (Photo by Kristen Hellwig.)

10:30 AM: Palm Springs, CaliforniaIt’s not just our job to take care of HIV patients; it’s a privilege to be part of an extended family. We are the Walgreens on-site HIV specialty pharmacy located inside the Desert AIDS Project.

10:00 AM: Memphis, Tennessee.Marvell Terry: “Teaching others to be engaged in the community and join in the fight in Memphis.”

11:15 AM: Philadelphia. Rev. Andrena Ingram: “I am a religious leader living openly with HIV. I engage the streets in my HIV shirt at least once a month. Afterward, I have coffee with my daughter, BruShonna Law.”

10:30 AM: Robbinsville, North Carolina. | David Shuler: “My photo was taken while hiking in the Snowbird Wilderness Area of the Great Smoky Mountains, in western North Carolina. I find hiking very therapeutic and relaxing, so I’m often in the woods, hiking the trails.”

12:15 PM: Eugene, Oregon.Dotti Smith: “Twenty-plus years positive and happy. Peace!”

11:30 PM: St. Louis, Missouri.YouTube blogger Aaron Laxton takes a photo while making a video that will be posted on “My HIV Journey” at www.youtube.com/laxtona. His videos regarding his life with HIV began four days after diagnosis on June 6, 2011.

11:00 AM: New York City.Jack Mackeknroth: “Just before my swim workout with Team New York Aquatics. I have been on the team for 21 years—almost as long as I’ve been HIV-positive. It’s been a great support network for me. I swim competitively because training keeps me physically and mentally strong, which only augments my healthy lifestyle and helps me manage my HIV. Back in the ’80s, people were scared that you could get AIDS from swimming in the same pool with an HIV-positive person. We’ve come a long way.”

10:20 AM: New York City. Doug Collins, 45, photographed at Rosh Hashanah services: “I’ve been positive for two years. I have participated in AIDSWALK NY with GMHC, as well as being televised speaking at City Hall. I’m out to all of my friends and family. I’m happier and healthier than ever in my life.”

1:30 PM: Kansas. “My story started on 9/21/2012. The attached photo is the t-shirt I wore to get my positive HIV test results. I happened to receive a copy of PA when I stopped at the specialist’s office after the diagnosis and thought I’d contribute. I had pretty well prepared myself since coming out in 1991, but when I had them bring my mom into the exam room, I was pretty terrified and crying—not for myself, but for her. She cried a bit, too, but she has been great so far, as has the rest of my family. I have a great job, and my family is so supportive of me. I’m very fortunate in those aspects.”

1:30 PM: Chicago.Cynthia Holmes: “This is me at my day job as a phone counselor in Chicago, helping people through crises and connecting them to support services. I am HIV-negative, and believe in fighting the disease, promoting prevention, and supporting those affected. I did HIV education in South Africa, safe sex education in online chat rooms, and volunteer with queer at-risk youth. I want to help!”

1:00 PM: Boston.AIDS Clinical Trials Group reseachers and operations staff review their application for continued funding as a NIAID Clinical Research Network on Therapeutics for HIV/AIDS and HIV-associated Infections
in Adults.

12:15 PM: Valley Stream, New York. Nancy Duncan: “I went in to New York to see How to Survive a Plague at the IFC Center. Washington Square, one of my favorite parks in the city, was right across the street, so I decided this was a good time to take a pic of myself.”

3:00 PM: Beckemeyer, Illinois.Sharon Maxwell: “My wonderful companion Missy, who loves me in spite of everything.”

2:30 PM: New York CityGustavo Gimenez: “I work in an allergy lab. At today’s meeting, we went over a case presentation of a patient with a complicated drug allergy. Unfortunately, his treatment options were further complicated because he had vertically transmitted HIV. I wanted to show in this picture that this anonymous case became personal, and that it struck a nerve. While I may never know who this patient is, I would like to wish him the best and show that I care.”

2:45 PM: Queenstown, New Zealand.Australian Olympic medalist Ji Wallace: “This photo was taken during some down time while we are on a work trip. I am with my boyfriend, Shaun Baldwin. Queenstown is known as the adrenaline capital of the southern hemisphere so we decided to go up the mountain on the gondolas for mountain luging. I won. In the picture, I am on the left and I am positive. We live in a loving, happy, and healthy serodiscordant relationship.”

3:00 PM: Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Debra Fehr: “My HIV-negative partner Victor and me, enjoying a beautiful day in our front yard! We’ve been together eight years. It just keeps getting better!”

3:30 PM: London.Richard Sawdon Smith: Self-portrait as Robert Mapplethorpe.
“As a photographer living with HIV and benefiting from the availability of medication, I wanted to take the time to reflect on those who were not so lucky and the senseless loss of life we have witnessed.”

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.

3:30 PM: Cape Town, South Africa. The staff of the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation, who are working hard on a microbicide trial, take time to celebrate cultural diversity at an event honoring the volunteers who take part in clinical trials.

4:30 PM: Sioux City, Iowa. Jamie shows Courtney and Doreen how to correctly use the FC2 female condom using a female pelvic model at the Siouxland Community Health Center in Iowa. Siouxland is a one-stop shop with HIV and HCV testing. The FC2 has had a big impact on prevention in the community.

4:00 PM: Maryville, Tennessee.Greg Knepper, former TPAN volunteer, on the grounds
of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church.

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.

5:00 PM: Midland, Pennsylvania.David Adkins: “This is the new tattoo I got today for A Day with HIV. It was done at West Coast Tattoo in East Liverpool, Ohio by Matt Backus. I am the Director of a volunteer-run HIV/AIDS service organization called Project HOPE
of Beaver County.

4:00 PM: Mountlake Terrace, Washington.Ian and Bran LeFae: “We are self- employed artists and wanted to make an image that could help fight the stigma that still surrounds HIV and AIDS. We’re lucky to work together each day. We hope that by standing in solidarity across the globe, we can find real solutions to a disease that continues to be such a challenge for so many communities.”

6:30 PM: East Kilbride, Scotland. John Shields: “Freezing my butt off in my garden.”

5:45 PM: Belo Horizonte, Brazil Jeferson Carvalho: “An AIDS program in my country sponsored a contest promoting awareness. We created a panel depicting love between a serodiscordant couple.”

10:00 PM: Miami. My name is Maria Mejia. I am a social media activist who has been HIV-positive for 23 years. I’m also an Hispanic lesbian from Colombia living in Miami. I am pictured with my partner/wife of five years, Lisa Laing. She is my rock and number one supporter, and is HIV-negative. She gives me the love and support that I think is so important for people with HIV. In our picture, you can see the love we have for each other is very intense and very spiritual. We are one and in this together ’til the end.

11:00 PM: Lake Charles, Louisiana. Thomas Huseby: “I’m the Treatment Adherence Case Manager at the Comprehensive Care Clinic at Moss Regional Hospital in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Today, I met with 49 McNeese University undergraduate nursing students. They presented their findings for improving the health and well-being of those infected, affected, and at risk of HIV/AIDS in Southwest Louisiana. Let’s Make A Deal: AIDS Style.”

5:15 PM: New York City. Lee Raines: “Under the How to Survive a Plague marquee at the IFC Center in New York City with my friends Rita and Jeff. I’m the guy wearing the ‘HIV POSITIVE’ t-shirt. With gratitude to my comrades, my sisters and brothers in ACT UP, and the AIDS activist movement, who taught me how to survive a plague.”

11:51 PM: Santa Rosa, California. Ayrick Broin: “Can’t sleep at night. Let’s do some more tests!”

8:00 PM: Vacaville, California. Amanda Proctor: “This is Phillip. He is nearly three years old and was born HIV-positive. He has been undetectable for a year and a half.”

6:00 PM: near Index, Washington Up in the Cascade Mountains, along the North Fork of the Skykomish River, Rick Dunwiddie, a 28-year survivor of HIV/AIDS, is fishing for steelhead and trout. But today, only a small rainbow was caught and released in celebration of A Day with HIV.

8:45 PM: Nashville , Tennessee. Cassondra Webb: “My niece Dallas’ 18th birthday dinner with the family. This is her girlfriend, Cici, putting on the lock and key necklace she got Dallas. Dallas organized an Equality Walk for her senior project and donated proceeds to Chattanooga Cares. I am in awe of this girl who wants to provide therapy to gay and to HIV at-risk youth who will struggle with the things she’s already struggled with.”

9:45 PM: Bradenton, Florida. Mike Trauth: “My daughter and me at dinner for my stepdaughter’s birthday. My wife and I are both positive, but my daughter is negative. She is just 13 months old.”

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