We Are The CURE3, Dec 01, 2010
Today is World AIDS Day, 1 Dec 2010. I wanted to do a special post about this topic from a slightly different angle... This is a close subject to my heart because it has touched my life knowing young people that has contracted HIV. Some of these individuals decided to go public to raise awareness despite the heavy cost to their personal life and privacy.
I was born in Israel in a small town, my mother was and still is a nurse that works in pediatrics. We lived in the workers dorms of the hospital and often after school I would visit her at work, Mom takes care of children with conditions such as HIV Aids, cancer and hepatitis... from my wonderful mother I learned the meaning of compassion and always admired her strength. Many of this Innocent children lost there struggle to HIV or cancer... I didn't understand how could she continue to work that job day in and day out with the mental ware it puts on a person. Many of the children with Aids were Ethiopian origin since Africa is the most affected part of the world with HIV, latley many celebrities have joined the fight to bring better health care and contribute to the education in that part of the world for HIV prevention.
Today, knowing people with this condition I can only do my small part with this blog to promote awareness and safe sex practice, please notice that I referred to HIV as a condition not a disease. At this day and age you can maintain a healthy living for many years with the right medical care, while there is no cure its impotent people know it is not a death sentence... its no different then any other serious illness that can be manged and lived with. I am IN NO WAY saying go out and have unprotected sex cause its "no big deal"... If you contract HIV it is still going to change your life.... its a permanent life style change-taking medications every day, being more sensitive to other illness/infections and outbreaks, choosing a sexual or romantic partner and letting them know and the possibility of never being able to have children of your own, these are all things someone with HIV has to deal with, But like everyone else people with HIV are entitled to LOVE that means giving and receiving love, sex, relationship, and acceptance... I have herd friends that have ignorantly referred to the condition as "The Monster" or other ignorant terms when speaking of someone with HIV. Saying they can never date someone who has it or that "these people" should immediately reveal their HIV status... Let me tell you one thing: LOVE CONCURS ALL. Even the risks of HIV. I have been a witness to this with a couple I know in which only one side has this condition. Anyone that uses such terms or in some way implies that theses HUMAN BEINGS are not entitled to anything and everything a human should enjoy in there life including Sex and Love is basically condemning themselves.... You never know where you will be tomorrow and you cant understand the challenges and tribulations of a person with HIV until you walk a mile in their shoes. And God said: "As you have done it to one of the least of these my brothers, you have done it to me" Matthew 25. If you exclude people out of your life out of fear you are the one loosing out in the end of the day.
The fear campaign tactics that were launched since the 90is have done good on one hand promoting people to take resposiblity for their own bodies and practice safe sex but at the same time making it very difficult for people with this condition to live openly because of fear of being discriminated and isolated... Think carefully if you had this condition would you be telling it to every individual that approaches you knowing society perception of HIV? NO you would not because us as a society have made them wear this as a badge of shame. Individuals with HIV have to take the responsibility on themselves to practice only safe sex, maintain their viral load low and then also inform their partners of the risk and that is not an easy task when your afraid the minute you do so- your partner will be runing to the hills or violate yourprivacy. So today I am left with these tow messages:
Educate, promote and practice safe sex no matter what your partner say or how "healthy" or "honest" they look until you are both in a monogamous committed relationship and repeatedly got tested keep the condom on.
Secondly we must embrace love and accept the people who have this condition understand their situation and not let fear or ignorance be our guide.... Treat others the way you want to be treated and you will find that ALL of us deserve happiness and fulfillment and the human heart can overcome even the biggest physical challenges.
I have shot this Series a few years back, at the time I was asked to donate some of my work to be auctioned in an HIV art benefit I gladly offered one of theses pieces... it was meant to symbolically portray the pains of Africa... so much Beauty trapped inside so much Pain. The organizers rejected the piece for being too controversial and feared it will make people feel uncomfortable in what was supposed to be a light and fun event.... they wanted a fluff piece that would not be as disturbing. While I understood their point of view I think making people uncomfortable is what I want to do...! Make them think and take a minute out of their day to examine something beyond their daily life spectrum. Africa is the region of the world most affected by HIV and that is only one of the problems the continent has with poverty, education, corruption and hunger. This series fell back to the depth of my hard drive and I think now after all these years its time to bring it out for this blog. In these images I used Khadim who I met in Harlem "a real right of the boat proud African" lol not an experienced model. I was impressed with his painting like features and he agreed to model for me and let me tell you, every single image of his film was beautiful he could have given some tips to the pros.
Charity Art campaign to raise HIV awareness in Africa
Working on these images brought me to tears a few times as I did the research to get the exact statistics I wanted to place regarding Africa. I also listed non profit organizations you might want to donate to or be active with.