MORE ABOUT PHOTOSENSITIVE
Images of HIV and AIDS in Africa and Asia
AIDS has been a critical social issue since its rise in the 1980s. There is no better way imaginable to bring home the plight of AIDS victims than through images, images that capture the heartbreak of AIDS orphans and the sorrow of AIDS sufferers. Three separate projects in the Photosensitive canon took on the difficult task of capturing pictures of AIDS and HIV, in order to educate people about the epidemic and move them to action. Those projects were HIV Positive, AIDS: Picture Change and the Rwanda Project. The first project was begun in 2002, the second in 2005 and the third in 2007.
All three projects had a focus on AIDS in Africa although the AIDS: Picture Change project ultimately had more of a global focus that included Kenya, Mozambique and Ethiopia but also India and Cambodia. HIV Positive focused specifically on Zambia, the landlocked country in the heart of Southern Africa. The Rwanda project, "Living With," was distinct again but it overlapped with the others in its desire to show the effects of AIDS in Africa through images.
HIV Positive captures images of Zambia AIDS sufferers
Peter Bregg was the driving force behind this project. Bregg says, "I couldn't believe the poverty and degree to which HIV/AIDS was overtaking life in Zambia. This was the trip tahtopeneed my eyes to HIV/AIDS. Seventy percent of the world's HIV positive population lives in sub-Saharan Africa."
The project brought home a central tenet of all Photosensitive's work: that documentary photograph has the power to change the world and affect history. HIV Positive might exercise that power to educate people about the effect of AIDS in Africa, to create change, inspire empathy and much more. As Bregg says, "If you take our photographs into high schools and universities and public places, one kid might see a picture of a child with AIDS and think 'I'm going to be a doctor' or 'I'm going to talk about this with my parents' or 'I think I want to volunteer in Africa one day... The possibilities and the power are kind of endless and they renew themselves, with each project, each photograph, each exhibition."
Tony Hauser captured one image of a grandmother surrounded by her 17 grandchildren, all orphaned by AIDS. Says Hauser, "The middle generation has been devastated by HIV and AIDS so you meet grandmothers who care for five, ten, twenty grandchildren." Hauser's photos eventually inspired $5000 in donations through his local Second Cup.
Peter Bregg's image of Changu Mwachingwala, an 80 year old grandmother, offers another story of the power of photography and images' ability to foster change. This was originally an image of a woman standing amid her drought-stunted crops worried how she would ever find tomorrow's dinner for 20 AIDS-orphaned grandchildren. When the image was later picked up by Maclean's magazine, a reader was inspired to contact CARE and offer to help this particular African grandmother. They tracked her down and she eventually received money. Says Bregg, "That's the power of the photograph!"
More images of HIV and AIDS in Africa
Treatments are available but they are too expensive for most of Africa's poor. Patti Gower captured this image of 16 year old Lucy only a few days before her death due to AIDS.
In another image by Patti Gower, toddler Martin contemplates a high five from nursery staff. Born with congenital AIDS, Martin has little hope of surviving to his fifth birthday. Image by Patti Gower.
Children stand around the gravestones of family members who have died of AIDS. By Peter Bregg
AIDS: Picture Change
With the second major project on the African AIDS crisis, the amount of resources available to Photosensitive had increased and this was the biggest project the collective had ever undertaken. The images were to be presented at the XVI International AIDS Conference in Toronto, in August of 2006. This time, Andrew Stawicki wanted the focus of the images to be "Hope, not just despair, in the lives and faces of those living with AIDS."
Lucas Robinson, project manager at CARE, says that thanks to involvement of the International AIDS Conference and TakingitGlobal the images have been seen by millions. The name of the project, AIDS: Picture Change bespoke the project's intention to imagine a better world, and to show photos that inspired action. Once again, that is what Photosensitive is all about.
A rugged cross marks the grave of an AIDS victim in Mozambique, Africa, while mourners gather for the funeral of another victim in the background. Image by Peter Bregg.
A care worker attends to an AIDS ravaged patient in Mozambique, Africa, in another image by Peter Bregg.
Families and children see death every day in Africa. But they also see great acts of strength and courage. Here, nurses soldier through another day, bringing an AIDS patient to get medical help. As one child said, "We know we can beat AIDS. We just need to work together." Image by Bernard Weil.
"We also wanted to capture images of hope and joy," says Andrew Stawicki of Photosensitive, about the AIDS: Picture Change project.
These African children are the hope for a new Africa, one that will hopefully someday call AIDS history.