My reaction twelve years ago, when I learned I was HIV-positive, was to feel I had been so stupid, because I had the tools —the information—and didn’t use them. I played with fire and these were the results.
My lover also turned out to be HIV-positive. We didn’t reproach one another, but we made a pact to let the disease advance unimpeded. Each of us wanted a quick death, with little suffering. It was a fatalistic decision taken out of fear, but we were wrong, because by 1996 there were new treatments. We took the drugs and we’re still here.
I was originally a medical transcriber , but I now work as a clinical file clerk at the National Institute of Nutrition. At the Institute, I provide support and information to people who do not know what to do when they come in for HIV treatment. I facilitate their admission to the hospital and help them get quick medical care.
Being sound and healthy helps me to encourage people: “Don’t give up so easily. Just think, you also can be as healthy as I am.” There are people who have died from ignorance, from having a fatalistic attitude, from not taking HIV just as a new step and opportunity in life. These people have to be told that there’s still a long road to go, that they have many years ahead of them.
Most of my pictures are of my family, especially my mother, who I am helping to rid of the stigma she holds for her own disease. The rest of the photographs are everyday street scenes that demonstrate what HIV stigma is. That’s why I thought they were perfect for this project. I hope the pictures beare helpful and that people can learn from them.