Originated as part of the global MAKE ART/STOP AIDS initiative, this project paints a vivid picture of the AIDS epidemic—after its initial outbreak, and as treatment becomes more widely available. It testifies to the resilient spirit of those facing the challenges of HIV.

More than 130 HIV-positive people have participated in workshops led by South African photographer Gideon Mendel, with photo educator Crispin Hughes, and David Gere, director of the Art & Global Health Center at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Through Positive Eyes features insider photography by people living with HIV and AIDS. Many of them are picking up cameras for the first time in their lives. Over the past decade, the project has grown, one city per year, to become ambitiously international in scope, now encompassing ten cities in eight countries on five continents.

The project chronicles a very particular moment in the epidemic, when effective treatment is available to some, not all, and when the enduring stigma associated with HIV and AIDS has become entrenched, a major roadblock to both prevention and treatment. The participants in the project have volunteered to tell their stories, in words and in photos, in order to break down stigma and empower themselves. They are identified by their first names, in part to emphasize their humanity and accessibility, but also to protect those who live in cities where stigma can be dangerous, if not life-threatening.

Hardcover Book

Edited by David Gere and Gideon Mendel, with a foreword by Richard Gere, the hardcover book version of the Through Positive Eyes project is available for purchase.

The book is published by Aperture and commemorates a decade of photo-storytelling.


Major funding for Through Positive Eyes has been provided by The Herb Ritts Foundation, led by board chair Erik Hyman and executive director Mark McKenna. We thank them for their sustained and passionate commitment to photography by people living with HIV and AIDS.

Additional support provided by: The Ford Foundation; The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts; Teiger Foundation; Gere Foundation; U.S. President’s Emergency Fund for AIDS Relief; Brazilian Ministry of Health STD/AIDS Prevention Department; International AIDS Society; UNAIDS; University of California Institute for Mexico and the United States (UC MEXUS); City of Los Angeles AIDS Coordinator’s Office; Heroes Project; National Endowment for the Arts; Electronic Theatre Controls (ETC); UCLA AIDS Institute; UCLA International Institute; UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture; UCLA Office of the Chancellor

Directors/Editors: Gideon Mendel and David Gere

Gideon Mendel established his career with searing photographs of the final years of South Africa’s apartheid. For three decades, he has responded to key social and environmental issues around the world. He has received numerous awards, including the W. Eugene Smith Grant in Humanistic Photography, the inaugural Jackson Pollock Prize for Creativity, the Greenpeace Photo Award, and the Amnesty International Media Award; he was shortlisted for the Prix Pictet in 2015 and 2019.

David Gere, Ph.D., is director of the UCLA Art & Global Health Center and professor of arts activism at the UCLA Department of World Arts & Cultures/Dance at the UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture.

We would like to acknowledge our partners and children, who support us in this work—even when it takes us far from home.

Photo Educator: Crispin Hughes with support from Ricardo Funari and Luciana Saldanha (Rio de Janeiro), Mikhael Subotzky (Johannesburg), Parthiv Shah (Mumbai), Vinai Dithajohn and Apichart Sritakae (Bangkok), Marie Arago and Tatiana Mora Liautaud (Port-au-Prince), Simanga Konstant Zondo (Durban)

UCLA Text Editors: Gabrielle Bonder, Elisabeth Nails, Hanni Ress, Ariel Stevenson

Gideon Mendel Studio: Maria Quigley, Alice Mann

Community Organizer: Hanni Ress

Education Consultant: Timothy Kordic

Exhibition Curators: Carol Brown, David Gere, Stan Pressner

Infographic Research: Lesley Lawson

Website Design & Development: Isaiah Baiseri

Website Design Consultant & Original Website Developer: Andy Brockie

Website Video: Cut + Cue, Mo Stoebe, Katja Kulenkampff, Jesse Phinney

UCLA Art & Global Health Center Staff (2004–19): Noel Alumit, Marcia Argolo, Isaiah Baiseri, Brij Mohan Singh Bhandari, Gabrielle Bonder, Cathryn Dhanatya, David Gere, Kelly Gluckman, Bobby Gordon, Lauren Gould, Susana Hernandez, Lakhiyia Hicks, Carol Hobson, Claire Hoch-Frohman, Amanda Hoskinson, Ivy Hurwit, Kristin Killacky, Adrian Meza, Sebastian Milla, Veline Mojarro, Meena Murugesan, Elisabeth Nails, Phillip T. Nails, Lisa Park, Hanni Ress, Ariel Stevenson, Arianna Taboada, Luz Maria Torres, Rajeev Varma

Workshop Producers: Janna Shadduck-Hernandez (Mexico City co-director), Alejandro Brito-Lemus, Julia Arnaut (Mexico City); Cristina Pimenta (Rio de Janeiro); Pholokgolo Ramothwala (Johannesburg); Timothy Kordic, Nancy Ramos (Los Angeles); Ryan Hill, Anna Kassinger, Dan Solberg (Washington, D.C.); Vinitha Venkatraman (Mumbai); Nym Korakot Punlopruksa, Michael Sakamoto, Waewdao Sirisook, Scott Weeks (Bangkok); Marie Arago, Tatiana Mora Liautaud (Port-au-Prince); Jane Bruton, Lesley Lawson, Marc Thompson (London); Paul Browde, Carol Brown, Deborah Ewing, Mabusi Kgwete, Zinhle Khumalo, Stan Pressner (Durban)

Translators and Transcribers: Janna Shadduck- Hernandez (Mexico City); Ana Paula Höfling, Marina Magalhães, Luciana Saldanha (Rio de Janeiro); Katie Boot (Johannesburg, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C.); Kavita Nair Bhatia, Crystal Hues, Ahilya Kaul, Anuradha Kishore, Gopal Nair, Sreelesh Nambiar, Pooja Pottenkulam (Mumbai); Nym Korakot Punlopruksa (Bangkok); Rodolph La Pointe, Tatiana Mora Liautaud, Karl Pétion, Jeff St. Dic (Port-au-Prince); Patrick Phan (London); Maria Quigley (Durban)