2008
Mexico City, Mexico

Ilsa

Ilsa

Ilsa is the name I have given myself. Now that I am eighteen years old, I feel empowered and my decisions are legally recognized. What I want is to feel fulfilled and productive, in order to take …

Magos

Magos

I am forty-one years old, I’ve been married for nineteen years, and I have been living with HIV for the past seven. Before being diagnosed I was another woman, the typical housewife who takes care o …

Silvia

Silvia

I am thirty-nine and have been living with HIV for fifteen years. When I received the diagnosis, I felt like I was already dying. I thought of my three children and imagined I was losing them. I was …

Octavio

Octavio

My HIV infection was the consequence of a gang rape. When the doctors gave me the diagnosis, I felt my life was over. What else could happen to me? I had been a very abused child. My mother was …

Ramón

Ramón

Eighteen years ago I was working in a laboratory, and it was in that very place that I tested myself for HIV. The result was positive. It was hard for me to accept the news. The hardest thing to …

Martín

Martín

When the doctor told me we needed to discuss the results of my blood test, I already knew I was positive. I guessed it because Alfredo, my lover, had been diagnosed already. It was a hard blow for …

Flor

Flor

I am not sure if I contracted HIV through a blood transfusion or by contact with contaminated medical instruments. But when I was diagnosed twelve years ago, I was sure it was God’s punishment. I w …

Roberto

Roberto

When I learned the results of my HIV test, I asked myself if I could live with the infection. At that moment, all my prejudices and internalized stigmas came to the surface, because although I knew …

Salvador

Salvador

My reaction twelve years ago, when I learned I was HIV-positive, was to feel I had been so stupid, because I had the information and didn’t use it. I played with fire and look at the result. My l …

Alejandro

Alejandro

I am an electrician and I have been living with HIV for the past fifteen years. That afternoon when I got the news, I was in shock. I left the doctor’s office and wandered aimlessly along the s …

René

René

I was diagnosed with HIV just a year ago. I was not surprised. I always took care, but then on one occasion I didn’t protect myself. I became seriously ill and there seemed no hope I would live. My f …

Ilián

Ilián

When I learned I had HIV, I thought that all feelings and emotions and doors would now be closed to me. After a while, I learned that HIV is only one part of me, that I have no reason to fall apart, …

Magda

Magda

I was diagnosed with HIV over five years ago. Before then my life was no different from that of any other housewife. I consider myself to be a strong woman, but if they tell you that you have a …

Eduardo

Eduardo

I am twenty-four years old and I love rainy days. As raindrops fall, I am reminded of the place where, ten years ago, I started understanding myself as gay. It was the first time I ever shared …

2009
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Cleverson

Cleverson

I realized I was gay when I was nine years old. But actually understanding it took some time. At twelve, I had a friend who was openly gay and I wanted to find out more about it through him, to get …

Jonatha

Jonatha

My partner and I met at a nightclub when I was fifteen years old and he was sixteen. I fell in love with him at first sight. He looked healthy. I could not tell he was ill. It was when I was …

Jorge

Jorge

HIV changed my life a lot, but it had a good side too, which is that I started doing prevention work, raising awareness so that other people don’t become infected with HIV. In the beginning I t …

José Luiz

José Luiz

When I found out that I was positive, my only fear was my partner’s reaction. I went out, got drunk, and went home. I couldn’t sleep. When my partner woke up, I told her. She stared at me for ten min …

Aninha

Aninha

I am a happy person, but it hasn’t always been like this. I was rebellious. I didn’t want to take the medication. I was sick with AIDS, bedridden, in a wheelchair. I almost died but didn’t, thanks to my …

Cida

Cida

I never thought that AIDS could one day be part of my life. I am a retired teacher, and I always guided my students to take care of themselves, to get tested and treated. I thought I was immune. …

Mara

Mara

I was infected with HIV during my first relationship, at the age of eighteen. I thought I was outside the risk groups, that AIDS was only found among homosexuals and drug users. I thought that I—who m …

Artur

Artur

I was diagnosed when I was nineteen. I went to a local health center to have an anonymous test done. I was sick, throwing up. When I passed by the place where everyone else had their HIV tests done, …

Leotino

Leotino

I came to Rio from the central western region of Brazil, bordering Bolivia, to grow as a gay man, to come out, because with my family I couldn’t do this. I also came to Rio to get a better job and t …

Albany

Albany

I used to be a very naughty person, very crazy and totally irresponsible. I had no love for my body. I had no love for myself. When I discovered my diagnosis I was very fragile. The doctor told me I …

Marcos

Marcos

I started in the gay scene as a rent boy. My father was a preacher, and my whole family is Christian. I never had to tell my family about my homosexuality, but I never had to hide it either. They …

Alcione

Alcione

I used to live in a guesthouse, where I paid rent daily to the madam. Not paying meant having to sleep in the streets. I didn’t want that. So I slept during the day and hustled at night to be able t …

Gladys

Gladys

I learned I was HIV-positive in 1991. How I caught it, I don’t know. When the doctor told me about my status, I went home and locked myself in for a week. I didn’t want to go outside, didn’t want to see a …

Leonardo

Leonardo

In the late 1980s, a lot of my friends were dying. I thought to myself, “I will not have the test done, because if I have it, I will be dead in six months, one year’s time. I will let the bomb dro …

Paulo

Paulo

When I received my diagnosis in 1988, I wasn’t nervous. I never had any opportunistic diseases, never had anything. I simply went and got tested because I thought I should. I had no symptoms. The d …

Francisco

Francisco

My name is Francisco. I live in Rio de Janeiro. I have AIDS. I traveled from Recife, through Natal, through Paraíba. I was kicked out of my house. I am like a nomad. I started traveling, traveling, …

Cazu

Cazu

Living with HIV, I have achieved many things that I never thought possible—public recognition, great roles both in the cinema and in the theater— all since I became HIV- positive. This has given me the …

2010
Johannesburg, South Africa

Bongi

Bongi

I first realized I was gay when I was doing my grade ten at school. It was really difficult for me to accept this about myself. I tried to commit suicide. Then my mother and my stepfather took me to …

Ludick

Ludick

I found out about my HIV status while I was in maximum security prison for committing murder. I saw that most of the inmates living with HIV in prison were dying there. So I thought, I’m going to d …

Annah

Annah

My baby’s name was Tshegofatso. The day we came back from the hospital, he was very big, a healthy baby. He grew nicely and was fat. He looked like his father. He was always laughing. When he became i …

Zandile

Zandile

My story begins when I met my baby’s father. We were longtime friends, we dated for a short time and, before I knew it, I was pregnant. It wasn’t planned. And then he left me for his ex-girlfriend. Whe …

Mlungisi

Mlungisi

There was nothing wrong with me, just a small swollen lymph node at the back of my ear. The nurse asked if she could give me an HIV test. “Let’s do it,” I said. At that time there was no proper couns …

Bhekisisa

Bhekisisa

When they told me that I was positive, I was not shocked at all. I knew my behavior had been bad. I had many girlfriends. I was a playboy. You can see how handsome I am. But I was destroying my …

Pleasure

Pleasure

After the diagnosis, I went to my boss to explain. My coworkers started distancing themselves from me and, eventually, my employer asked me to leave. The news spread that I had AIDS and my friends …

Nomsa

Nomsa

I disclosed to my family the same day I got my results. Now they refer their HIV-positive friends to me when they need information. “My cousin is also positive, and she’s living openly with her sta …

Kau

Kau

I’m going to be honest. At twenty-five, I knew how to prevent HIV. But coming from a remote rural village and being in Johannesburg where everything is new, everything is at your fingertips—it’s diffi …

Nontyatambo

Nontyatambo

One day I had a dream. I saw myself disclosing in front of a stadium full of people. When I woke up in the morning, I told my mom that I had dreamed this, and she said, “We are going to support you a …

Phindile

Phindile

I kept my status a secret for four years. No one knew. A friend of mine used to ask, “Why are you involved in all these organizations dealing with AIDS?” One day I said, “Because I’ve got HIV,” jokingly, …

Betty

Betty

I used to visit an HIV organization to get my medicines and counseling. One day the assistant asked me, “Are you working?” I was not. “Would you mind having a job here?” They were about to start a five-da …

Chris

Chris

I joined the Zimbabwean Army in 1995 and served in the Congo, where there were a lot of things happening, like beer drinking. Sometimes there were ladies to entertain us. Some guys were not using …

Gugu

Gugu

I am a victim of rape. After I was raped, they shot me and left me for dead. I lay in the hospital for three months in a coma. When I woke up, the doctor discovered I was pregnant and told me I had …

Gladys

Gladys

At the clinic, my husband came in and was told that I was positive. He said, “Not my wife! Maybe there’s a mistake somewhere.” But when I tested again, it still came back positive. I did the test seven …

Lindiwe

Lindiwe

I disclosed to my family after an uncle of mine died of AIDS. They believed he was bewitched. But I told them, “No, HIV is real. I’m living with HIV, and there’s nothing wrong with having it.” At first, …

Mgladzo

Mgladzo

Some people said I was possessed by demons because I’m a lesbian. So I decided to grow my hair and get a boyfriend. That’s when all these things started. I got the boyfriend and we slept together, and …

2011
Los Angeles, United States

Simon

Simon

I was born in Azmara, Eritrea, and raised in Sudan. Because of a civil war between Eritrea and Ethiopia, my first couple of years of life were spent in a refugee camp in Sudan. My first language was …

Guillermo

Guillermo

A few years ago there was a fire in Griffith Park and the area where I normally hike was destroyed. I felt devastated—it was a blackened atmosphere, with gnarled trees. But then I stepped back and r …

Jose

Jose

How HIV entered my life is pretty simple. I had unprotected sex with someone who was infected, and he didn’t know. He was arrested for something minor and when he was in jail they tested him and t …

Jazmine

Jazmine

Back in 2008, when I was sixteen, I was having stomach problems. I went to the hospital and the doctor said I had a cyst on my ovary and he was going to remove it. When he did the surgery, he found …

Ralph

Ralph

Everybody always goes, “Why do you walk with a cane?” I’ve been known to say, “Oh, I have a slight case of AIDS.” I got my test results on April Fools’ Day, one month before my twenty-fifth birthday. B …

Nancy

Nancy

When I was a young child I had polio. I grew up with a brace on my right foot, I had a limp. With all that, and being skinny and awkward, I was laughed at. But being stigmatized for having HIV is …

Dwayne

Dwayne

I was in Atlanta, Georgia, and I was working with this very professional corporate company, traveling all over the country to motivate people to be amazing in their work and help them make money. I …

Lynnea

Lynnea

When you’re a person living with HIV, you need your friends, to get past the stigma and also to share moments of genuine love. I think I was born with HIV. My mother has it, and one of the ways it c …

LaVera

LaVera

When I found out I was HIV-positive, I had just re-entered the United States after a trip to Nigeria, and I was having some pregnancy-related complications. When the doctor told me, I broke down and …

Mark

Mark

In 1981, I moved from Minneapolis to New York City and partied on Fire Island all summer. That was the summer that HIV arrived. The gentleman I was dating then died in early 1983. He was probably …

Rodney

Rodney

I found out that my partner had been layering crack in our pot. He would put it in without me knowing it. One day I reached into his pocket and I found this little white square. And then I started …

Cesar

Cesar

I was born in East L.A. and started being sexually active when I was thirteen. I was really curious and experimented a lot. When I was in high school, I wanted to know my HIV status, because I had …

2012
Washington, D.C., United States

Ericka

Ericka

I was raped in prison. When they told me I had HIV, I was nineteen years old. From then until I was twenty-five, I prostituted. It was the only way to get more money to supply my habit. I had a …

D'Angelo

D'Angelo

My mother and I used to be very close before she found out that I was gay. We were inseparable. I was fourteen when she found out. Things started going downhill from there. She didn’t approve and we f …

Gemini

Gemini

I was diagnosed with HIV when I was sixteen. I didn’t cry. All I could think about was my mother because that’s what she passed from. She was a prostitute and she used to shoot up intravenous drugs and …

Sharon

Sharon

I’m pretty much a loner. I like things that are quiet, that give me a chance to think. In the environment where I come from, there was a lot of poverty, and a lot of shootings and robberies. E …

John

John

I was born with HIV twenty-three years ago. At the time my mother and father got together, my father was doing drugs. He contracted HIV and I was born with it. So I always knew I was sick. I didn’t r …

Tori

Tori

My name is Tyranny but everybody calls me Tori. I found out I was HIV-positive on June 8, 2010, in Atlanta. I called my mother in D.C. and told her, and she was like, “Just get back here.” She cal …

Mary

Mary

I’m twenty-three years old, and I’m bringing swag to HIV awareness. I’m swagtastic. I was born HIV-positive. My biological mother passed away of complications from AIDS. I really felt abandoned. I went …

Jason

Jason

I have a tattoo that says “Made In Puerto Rico.” I’m proud of being Puerto Rican. For one thing, the island is progressive when it comes to acceptance of the LGBTQI community. My family had no probl …

Kyle

Kyle

I found out I was HIV-positive in 1987, when I went to my doctor for a regular check-up. Within a couple of years I had full-blown AIDS. I had five T-cells and I named them all: Lucy, Ricky, Fred, …

Edgar

Edgar

I am from El Salvador. I came here to be reunited with my mother. When I arrived she gave me one hug and one kiss. That was it. I expected more after such a long time. I was eighteen and I hadn’t s …

Christian

Christian

When I came out of the closet at sixteen, it was hurtful to my family. They’re devout Baptists, in North Carolina, and to be gay—and then to be black, and then to be in a small town—was kind of embar …

Sabrina

Sabrina

I was diagnosed twenty-three years ago, when I was thirty-three and pregnant with my daughter. I was still using. I smoked crack cocaine and drank alcohol and smoked cigarettes and marijuana, in …

2012
Mumbai, India

Dolly

Dolly

I am a Hindu Punjabi. I was adopted by a Muslim family. And I am transgender. I have faced many difficulties in my life. I had an accident. My mother could not handle seeing how injured I was. She …

Swami

Swami

Being from Reunion Island, a French territory in the southwest part of the Indian Ocean, I was raised in a Christian family. As an adult, I converted to Hinduism. Life took me that way. Similarly, …

Renukah

Renukah

After I was engaged, my future husband told me that he was HIV-positive. He did not know whether he contracted HIV in a hospital when he broke his foot and there was blood, or from taking drugs. He …

Priya

Priya

When I told my husband that the hospital informed me I am HIV-positive, he said, “How have you contracted HIV? Who have you been with? My children don’t have it and I don’t have it.” And with these words, …

Fatima

Fatima

My husband found out about his HIV-positive status in 1997. He was already in the advanced stages of AIDS and was in a very critical state. He died of cryptococcal meningitis in 2000. When my …

Pastor Shimray

Pastor Shimray

I am a religious leader, a pastor, in Manipur, India. I was brought up in a Christian boarding school and belong to a Baptist denomination. There was a time in my life when my relationship with the …

Sudesh

Sudesh

I have faced a lot of problems. In 2005, my wife died—of non-AIDS-related causes—and I thought, “What have I got in life other than misfortune?” I distanced myself from everyone and was very worried that my …

Gautam

Gautam

When I was in the fourth grade, I realized I was attracted to men. I was quite confused at the time. I didn’t understand whether it was an illness or whether I was the only person facing this issue. W …

Suman

Suman

I got married when I was sixteen. When I was pregnant with my first child, I was tested for HIV and found out I was positive. I’m sure my husband already knew his status, because when the hospital a …

Manisha

Manisha

The truth is the truth. I tell everyone that I am HIV-positive, especially those who are close to me. “If you want to be with me, that’s fine. If not, you can happily leave. It is not a problem for me. …

Hari

Hari

In 1994, I was diagnosed HIV-positive. When I heard this, it was a big blow. The body language of the person who informed me of this news indicated that he didn’t even think of me as a human being. I …

Anthony

Anthony

There was a girl who came into my life. She had another boyfriend with whom she was in love but, whenever she fought with him, she would come to me and tell me, “I have left him.” Finally, one day she …

Jyoti

Jyoti

After finding out I was HIV-positive, I was very afraid of the stigma, the discrimination, and how I was going to face society. My health started to fail. I was very tired, so I was not able to do …

Raju

Raju

When I found out that I was HIV-positive,my life went dark. Two years after I got married, my wife and I were unable to have a child. I was diagnosed with low sperm count. At the hospital I had a …

2013
Bangkok, Thailand

No

No

I was an unruly young person. I ran away from home. I wanted to work and earn money and dress beautifully. When I was about seventeen, I became a go-go dancer—a sex worker—in a bar. My first drug was …

Jo

Jo

I grew up in a broken family. My uncle raised me along with my cousin, but it seemed like all the love went to his own child. So I acted out by doing drugs to get attention. I was a bad boy. I tried …

Sam

Sam

Hailing from the economically depressed northern part of the country, I always dreamed of having more money and seeking better security in life. Once I moved to Bangkok, I did things I would never …

Joe

Joe

In Bangkok, gay life and society means extravagance. I spent money on expensive stuff and, to be frank, I slept around. But every time I had sex with anyone, I always used condoms. That’s why I’m not …

Jai

Jai

I got HIV from my partner, who liked buying sex. I told him if he couldn’t stop messing around like that, he should at least use condoms. “If you were to get AIDS, what would we do?” Not long after that …

Aoy

Aoy

I became infected with HIV ten years ago, when I was thirty, from sexual intercourse with my boyfriend. At first, my reaction was just as you would expect. I was shocked. And also, I was worried …

Wat

Wat

I fell very ill and had to be admitted to the hospital. I told no one but my mother. My doctor told me I wouldn’t live long. But my mother refused to believe it. She said, “I have eight children and I w …

Maam

Maam

When I was pregnant with my third child, the doctor told me they found a problem with my blood. I cried for seven days. I didn’t eat anything. All I could do was cry. Then I discovered more i …

Bee

Bee

Some people accept my being a lady boy. I have felt like this since I was a child. Every lady boy’s dream is to be just like a real woman, with breasts and female sexual organs. I dreamed of saving m …

Keng

Keng

In my teens I was addicted to drugs. I think I got HIV from sharing needles. I found out I was HIV-infected during my pregnancy with Nong Kao, my third child. I didn’t pay much attention. I only k …

Auwn

Auwn

In my family I play the role of mother and father to everybody. I’m always reaching out to embrace and support others. My partner, who had HIV, was a hard-working man, gentle to me, and he accepted m …

Aoi

Aoi

Growing up, I misbehaved a lot. I shared needles and drugs with others. I got arrested for selling. After five years in a provincial prison, I was sent to the main prison. I got a tattoo while I was …

2014
Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Riccardo

Riccardo

In 2009, I went to spend a summer vacation in Jeremie, a town west of Port-au-Prince. While there, I contracted malaria and typhoid, which took a toll on me. The doctor made me take a bunch of blood …

Wilder

Wilder

I found out about my HIV status in 1998. I went to see a doctor for my skin. The doctor asked me to get tested, and I found out I was infected with HIV. I wanted to throw myself under a car. I don’t k …

Esther

Esther

Poverty is the number one reason why we can’t control the HIV virus in this country. I realized that a lot of other people do not have the support my family gave me. That is why I created the F …

Medina

Medina

The father of my children died in 2004 from HIV, and that gave me a lot of problems. I cried. There are still people who stay away. They say I have HIV and that I can’t live next to them. They are a …

Steeve

Steeve

I used to go to a lot of brothels. I had never gotten advice that I should use condoms. One day I woke up and felt an intuition that I had to go and get tested. When I first heard I was infected, I …

Wideline

Wideline

I started sex work when I was sixteen years old. Sometimes clients didn’t understand and they got mad. They even curse at you. But the boss would never let anyone hit you. If they are with you for a m …

Emmanuel

Emmanuel

When someone first receives their test results and realizes they have HIV, they believe their life is over. One thing I always say to someone newly infected is this: It’s not the end of life. It’s mor …

Mideline

Mideline

When I found out that I had the virus, I was pregnant with twins. They gave me medicine the whole time I was pregnant and giving birth. They gave my twins medicine and they followed up with …

Yveson

Yveson

I met Emmanuel when he first came out as positive. When he went to the barbershop to cut his hair, the hairdresser refused and told him, “I will lose at least fifteen clients because of you.” I ran int …

Gaston

Gaston

I have never tried to find out how I became HIV-positive. You know why I never wanted to find out? Because that would have made me an angry and mean person for sure. I am the father of five …

Raphael

Raphael

In 2004, I went to take the test and I found out I was positive. When I first found out, since I did not really understand what HIV was, it did not make an impact on me. I took it like a fever, like …

Wilda

Wilda

I found out my boyfriend was sick. I loved him. I did not protect myself. We were enjoying life, without protection. In 2008, I started getting sick too. When I found out I had HIV, I thought I was …

2015
London, United Kingdom

James

James

Sexual intimacy—unapologetic sexual intimacy—is an integral part of many human relationships. In the early days of my diagnosis, I was afraid of transmitting the virus to partners. Sex was ove …

Gordon

Gordon

About ten years ago, my life imploded and I felt completely out of control. I was in a relationship that was killing me. My friends were telling me that I was going to die and I could not see it. He …

Darren

Darren

My life is very much focused on family and my responsibilities as a parent of eight children. HIV is a very small part of my life and it is not something that dictates how I move or how I view …

Isaac

Isaac

My life revolves around four little creatures. I love my dogs dearly, but they also really annoy me. Bella is my baby. She has been the stability within my unstable life, living with HIV. I’ve a …

Graeme

Graeme

I was diagnosed in the very early days of the epidemic. I wasn’t aware of anybody else in my circle having HIV. It did seem like a death sentence then. You literally didn’t know whether you had wee …

Aaron

Aaron

I was diagnosed in 2004 when I was living in Spain. (I was born in Mexico and have been living in London now for eight years.) I was quite shocked and said, “How long do I have?” I was still full of out …

Maureen

Maureen

I come from Zimbabwe. But now I live in London and I’m British. When I came to the UK, I started losing weight and having fevers. Something was suspicious. I collapsed in my house and was taken to t …

Marc

Marc

I tried to remember what it felt like to be negative as a young gay man and couldn’t. I probably had a year of living gay and HIV-negative. You know, I was seventeen when I was diagnosed. I had had t …

Joshua

Joshua

In London, a lot of gay men use Grindr, which is a dating app. A lot of people use it for casual sex. You look at the profiles of people on there, and they all say, “Clean, STI free,” which means no sex …

Chris

Chris

I was already ill when, in short order, I contracted a whole host of opportunistic infections: pneumonia, esophageal candida, herpes, thrush. It was like when you see those nature films where you …

Keith

Keith

I am an openly gay man who happens to be HIV-positive, but I’m not so open about my HIV status. In my photos, I remain anonymous. I don’t really reveal myself. I’m there but I’m hiding, I suppose. Actuall …

Michael

Michael

I moved from Liverpool to London in the late ’80s, looking for a different life and excitement and somebody to love. When I arrived, I found what I was looking for in abundance. It was everywhere. I w …

Virginia

Virginia

I was born in Argentina. I live in London now because my husband is a Londoner, London-Irish. We met in 1993 in India. We sent letters for three years and then, when we met again, they diagnosed me …

2016
Durban, South Africa

Jennifer

Jennifer

I was a beautiful young girl with a charming smile. All the men loved me. When I was nineteen, I had a strange feeling in my wrist. I went to the clinic to get treatment and the doctor told me that …

Simiso

Simiso

Prior to actually finding out about my status, I was riding on the assumption that HIV is for old people. I looked at it as something far away from me. It was never even close to crossing my mind. I …

Yvonne

Yvonne

When I started working as a volunteer, and then as a cleaner, for the Gugu Dlamini Foundation, I was scared, because I knew the story about what had happened to her. In 1998, a young South African …

Sanele

Sanele

I’m a Zulu man from a rural area of KwaZulu-Natal. You can’t be a real man in our culture without having more than one girlfriend. In general, being a man means having lots of children and not loo …

Thulile

Thulile

I was born with the virus. I have been living with it for about twenty-five years now. I am strong. I am beautiful. I am a positive woman, in all senses of that word. And I won’t let anyone d …

Xolisile

Xolisile

I was born and raised in Lindelani, a village in KwaZulu-Natal, by my grandma and my granddad. Due to the absence of my parents, I grew up in a dysfunctional family. I knew I wanted to finish …

Silungile (Gogo)

Silungile (Gogo)

I am a traditional healer. I am a mother and grandmother. I am an HIV and AIDS human rights activist. I work with young people and that’s where my passion is, especially for young girls. When I t …

Elizabeth

Elizabeth

I’m an outgoing person. I love ice cream. I love to dress up. I love high heels. I love to dance. And I am HIV-positive. At birth I was taken away from my mother, due to the fact she was mentally u …