PHOTOGRAPHER, NYC
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Project Statement: thriving

Project Statement: thriving

Whenever AIDS has won, stigma, shame, distrust, discrimination and apathy was on its side. Every time AIDS has been defeated, it has been because of trust, openness, dialogue between individuals and communities, family support, human solidarity, and the human perseverance to find new paths and solutions.”                   
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       -
Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  
In West Africa in the 1950's, chimpanzees were hunted by humans for their meat. Unaware that the chimpanzees were living with a deadly virus known as SIV, the hunters became infected by exposing themselves to the chimp's septic blood. Once SIV entered the human bloodstream, it mutated into what we now know as HIV. Yes, the worldwide AIDS pandemic started from one infection.

Over the following decades, HIV traveled from West Africa to the Caribbean, and then to the United States. In the early 1980's in major cities like New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, healthy homosexual men and intravenous drug users were the first to begin inexplicably dying from immune deficiency related illnesses. Doctors and scientists soon named the unknown deadly disease, AIDS. By 1984, similar cases of AIDS were reported around the world, including new cases in Hemophiliacs and heterosexuals. That same year, HIV was discovered to be the cause of AIDS, and the following year the first commercial test for the virus was introduced. It took nearly seven additional years, billions of dollars, and hundreds of thousands of lives lost before the first drug to combat the virus was developed. Through a global commitment to finding a cure for AIDS, monumental advances in treatment have been made, and today, HIV is no longer a death sentence.

thriving is a visual narrative regarding the resolve of five HIV positive men, Derek, Jason, Gabe, Shelby, and Steve. Most of the men in this story did not expect to be alive this long. However, after numerous emotional and physical setbacks in an environment not conducive for life, they continued to endure and power through obstacles, which challenged them every step of the way. Now that HIV is no longer a death sentence, they are determined to live and prosper as anyone else would who has defied the odds of a terminal illness. Throughout the process of this project, I was inspired by the unflinching honesty, courage, perseverance, and resiliency demonstrated by these young men. Each portrait conveys a pure expression of emotional honesty. Underneath each portrait is a quote by the sitter regarding HIV no longer being a death sentence.



 Life

Life

Derek

Derek

“I’m happy you’re doing this [the thriving project] because there is a huge
generation of young adults that have no fear about it [HIV] and it’s still a
life-threatening illness, that left untreated it will kill you . . . I think that’s lost
on the younger generations."

 

 Pushing Through Obstacles

Pushing Through Obstacles

Jason

Jason

“I contracted it (HIV) in 1995 and it’s 2018 and I’m still here
and I’m still kicking, and not just kicking but I’m thriving.”

 Perseverance

Perseverance

Gabe

Gabe

"We all live with HIV"

 Budding

Budding

Shelby

Shelby

“It was just, you know, getting by year to year and trying to maximize
what you would accomplish in that year and not trying to get to thinking
too long term, you know, because that was self-defeating. But now, you
can look a little further.”

 Independence

Independence

Steve

Steve

“I never thought I was going to be around this long”

 Thriving

Thriving

Project Statement: thriving

Whenever AIDS has won, stigma, shame, distrust, discrimination and apathy was on its side. Every time AIDS has been defeated, it has been because of trust, openness, dialogue between individuals and communities, family support, human solidarity, and the human perseverance to find new paths and solutions.”                   
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       -
Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  
In West Africa in the 1950's, chimpanzees were hunted by humans for their meat. Unaware that the chimpanzees were living with a deadly virus known as SIV, the hunters became infected by exposing themselves to the chimp's septic blood. Once SIV entered the human bloodstream, it mutated into what we now know as HIV. Yes, the worldwide AIDS pandemic started from one infection.

Over the following decades, HIV traveled from West Africa to the Caribbean, and then to the United States. In the early 1980's in major cities like New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, healthy homosexual men and intravenous drug users were the first to begin inexplicably dying from immune deficiency related illnesses. Doctors and scientists soon named the unknown deadly disease, AIDS. By 1984, similar cases of AIDS were reported around the world, including new cases in Hemophiliacs and heterosexuals. That same year, HIV was discovered to be the cause of AIDS, and the following year the first commercial test for the virus was introduced. It took nearly seven additional years, billions of dollars, and hundreds of thousands of lives lost before the first drug to combat the virus was developed. Through a global commitment to finding a cure for AIDS, monumental advances in treatment have been made, and today, HIV is no longer a death sentence.

thriving is a visual narrative regarding the resolve of five HIV positive men, Derek, Jason, Gabe, Shelby, and Steve. Most of the men in this story did not expect to be alive this long. However, after numerous emotional and physical setbacks in an environment not conducive for life, they continued to endure and power through obstacles, which challenged them every step of the way. Now that HIV is no longer a death sentence, they are determined to live and prosper as anyone else would who has defied the odds of a terminal illness. Throughout the process of this project, I was inspired by the unflinching honesty, courage, perseverance, and resiliency demonstrated by these young men. Each portrait conveys a pure expression of emotional honesty. Underneath each portrait is a quote by the sitter regarding HIV no longer being a death sentence.



Life

Derek

“I’m happy you’re doing this [the thriving project] because there is a huge
generation of young adults that have no fear about it [HIV] and it’s still a
life-threatening illness, that left untreated it will kill you . . . I think that’s lost
on the younger generations."

 

Pushing Through Obstacles

Jason

“I contracted it (HIV) in 1995 and it’s 2018 and I’m still here
and I’m still kicking, and not just kicking but I’m thriving.”

Perseverance

Gabe

"We all live with HIV"

Budding

Shelby

“It was just, you know, getting by year to year and trying to maximize
what you would accomplish in that year and not trying to get to thinking
too long term, you know, because that was self-defeating. But now, you
can look a little further.”

Independence

Steve

“I never thought I was going to be around this long”

Thriving

Project Statement: thriving
 Life
Derek
 Pushing Through Obstacles
Jason
 Perseverance
Gabe
 Budding
Shelby
 Independence
Steve
 Thriving