An estimated 7,000 people across the globe, including 900 children, contract HIV each day joining an estimated 34.2 million people already living with the virus. On Friday, Sept. 21, people everywhere, both HIV positive and negative, can share an image of coping and care through the lens of a camera. On that day, Positively Aware is asking people to take a digital photograph to record a moment of their day that will focus the world’s attention on the daily trials and triumphs of people living with HIV for its third annual A Day With HIV photo project. The project aims to remove the stigma of HIV and to advance an international community of care through this collective photographic portrait.
“HIV-associated stigma has a direct impact on everything we do and every aspect of our lives, including testing, learning how to protect ourselves and others, accessing care and treatment, and how we treat (or mistreat) other members of our own community,” said Jeff Berry, editor of Positively Aware. “There is still a lot of shame and blame when someone tests positive, we are ashamed of having gotten it, or our friends will blame us for being stupid. This directly affects why people who tested positive do not want to open up and discuss their status.”
The hope for the project is to chisel away at the stigma and “the fear and the ignorance that surround HIV by creating community that comes together on one single day, to share our collective stories of what it means to live in a world with HIV,” Berry added.
A Day with HIV comes from the brainchild Rick Guasco, creative director of Positively Aware. It’s a collaborative effort, not only within their publication department and the entire agency (Test Positive Aware Network), but also everyone who participates in A Day with HIV — both individuals as well as partner organizations such as AIDS Foundation Chicago, Black AIDS Institute and National Minority AIDS Council who are helping to get the word out to their own constituents about the campaign.
On Sept. 21 anyone can record a special image, a time with friends and family, at work or play, or any moment in the day that helps people better understand how HIV impacts people, loved ones, colleagues and communities. Photos must be submitted by Sept. 25 on ADayWithHIV.com
"We're asking everyone affected by HIV, whether they are positive or negative, to share with all of us an image of their life that expresses what it means to live with HIV," Berry said. "Their images, captured over a single day, will create a rich photographic tapestry of hope, strength and support."
The final photos selected for the photo essay of A Day with HIV will be announced in October 2012 and will be published in the November/December issue of Positively Aware magazine. Positively Aware will produce four covers for this special issue featuring a different photo from the essay.
See some of the images submitted from last year's campaign on the following pages...
Eugene, Ore., 5:30 p.m.: Cree Gordon, 26, has been HIV-positive for more than six years; his friend Mathias is negative: "I call my picture Opposites Attract," he says.
New York, N.Y., 7 p.m.: Jack Mackenroth, HIVpositive model: "I wore that shirt for the entire day. I believe that visibility is the key to fighting the stigma of HIV."
Oklahoma City, 8 p.m.: Cody Smith rides the Sizzler at the Oklahoma State Fair, as he celebrates his 26th birthday. This was his first birthday since learning that he is HIVpositive.
Salem, Ore., 11 p.m.: Jonathan Reitan, HIVpositive for more than five years, finds comfort from the fatigue and dizziness brought on by his daily meds while in the arms of his lover, Jonathon Broadwater, who is HIVnegative.