For the project I spoke openly about my journey having being diagnosed HIV+ 32 years previous. Back then there was no treatment and a lot of fear and misinformation concerning how HIV was transmitted. As such stigma was rife, which caused me to not be vocal about my status outside of the safety of those HIV+ forums and groups.
I felt empowered by talking about my own HIV+ status at my place of work and was moved by those who spoke so eloquently and openly about living with an HIV+ diagnoses. Straight after the project had finished, I knew I wanted to build on what we had collectively presented.
From here the same team came on board and collectively we have shaped this years visual presentation for World AIDS Day 2020.
The photo project is called, More to Me than HIV; it’s main purpose is to help breakdown the stigma that many people living with an HIV+ diagnoses experience. The project will culminate in an online public gallery as well as a physical exhibition of photographs at Jubilee library and a selection of branch libraries across Brighton and Hove who are supporting the project by allowing us to use the space free of charge
We are inviting people from all communities, gay, straight, BAME and transgender, who are living with HIV to submit three photos: one self portrait, (format, vertical), and two other photos (cropped, squared to fit beside your portrait photo) These two images must convey other aspects of what makes you, you; from a hobby, your career or passion.
Please send three empowering words to accompany the images. We will format and add these to the partite image.
Submissions will be exhibited on our online public gallery, which we will launch a week before World AIDS Day as part of the national HIV+ testing week.
From these submissions we will choose a cross section of 30 entries to make up our libraries exhibition. When submitting your photos, there will be an option to opt out of this part of the project and to have your images online only.
From the 30 entires we would like to invite you to write 300 words (100 words for each image) to give further context to the images and what it means then we say there’s more to me than HIV.
The team behind the project understand there be a lot of questions participants want to ask which we will strive to answer via the website, here are a few that may come to mind.
This part written by David Fray.
Can I be assured of confidentiality?
Yes, we live with or are affected by HIV ourselves and recognise the importance of confidentiality. For example, when you subscribe to our email list, you don’t have to give your name, we only use it to politely address you.
How do I submit photos, which format should I use and size?
Send your photos by email to the webpage address, there will also be easy to follow details of what format and size we would like you to use.
How do you approve images?
We reserve the right not to use images that break any UK law, contain any hateful or obscene content, or are too small to represent on our platform without distorting the image.
What if I don’t want to be identified?
We will not attach any name to the portraits for the project. You may choose not to show your whole face in the portraits, however, we would like to encourage you to combat stigma by being visible.
I’d like to take part, but I’m uneasy as I’m not out about my HIV
We recognise that choosing when and who to disclose your his positive status to can be difficult, as we have been there ourselves. You may want to choose this project as part of your disclosure strategy to show others how diverse we are. Being pictured with others may be of comfort to you, as you are not alone.
If you would like to speak to an HIV positive Peer Support Volunteer, the Sussex offers a one to one bespoke service to help you stand with you on your journey.
Our website will be updated throughout the project as more questions come in so please do check the website. We look forward to seeing your images as we all stand together and say, there is so much more to name than HIV.