Moving Pictures, Poignant Stories
With more than 250 images from dozens of countries taken by nine acclaimed photographers, Access to Life tells the poignant stories of people living with HIV after receiving life-saving treatment. Lachlan Bennett reports.
A photographic exhibition that captures the human face of communities affected by HIV/AIDS is opening at the Powerhouse Museum this week.
Access to Life documents the experience of people living with HIV who are receiving life-saving antiretroviral treatment in over ten developing countries including India, Vietnam, South Africa and Peru.
Combining the work of nine photographers, the exhibition depicts people in daily life, revealing the personal experiences of a variety of HIV-positive people as they manage their illness, undergo antiretroviral treatment and face fear, denial and ostracism.
“The exhibition is both a timely reminder that HIV is still here, and a testament to the medical and foreign aid achievements in managing the epidemic over the past three decades,” Powerhouse Museum director Dr Dawn Casey said.
Since being launched in 2008, the touring exhibition has been seen by millions across the globe and runs in partnership with international photography cooperative Magnum Photos.
The project was initiated by international health financing organisation Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which supports AIDS treatment in 147 countries and provides treatment for 3.6 million people.
“A decade ago, no-one in Africa had access to the antiretroviral medicine,” said Bill Bowtel, executive director of Pacific Friends of the Global Fund. Today, there are more than 8 million people living with HIV in low and middle income countries who are receiving the antiretroviral therapy.
“AIDS however remains a global humanitarian concern to get life-saving treatment to millions of people still suffering from HIV, particularly in those countries where access to basic health care is limited.”
The Powerhouse exhibition will see the launch of a new series of photographs taken in Papua New Guinea by acclaimed British photographer Chris Steele-Perkins.
Papua New Guinea is currently facing the largest HIV epidemic in the Asia-Pacific region.
With basic infrastructure and limited health services, the country is now a priority for the Pacific Friends of the Global Fund.
The exhibition also coincides with the 30-year anniversary of the first reported HIV case in Australia. To mark the occasion, a special display, HIV & AIDS 30 Years On: The Australian Story, will accompany the main exhibition and document the Australian response and approach to HIV/AIDS.
“From the shock tactics of the infamous Grim Reaper advertisements to the positive and witty Condoman campaign, HIV & AIDS 30 Years On traces the story of HIV in Australia from crisis to hope and beyond,” said Powerhouse Museum curator Anni Turnball.
[Image] Papua New Guinea ... Juliet Tabeka (left) and her family; and Sellina Clement. Photos: Chris Steele-Perkins/Magnum Photos
Access to Life and HIV & AIDS 30 Years On: The Australian Story opens on Tuesday, November 27 and runs until June 2013, at the Powerhouse Museum, 500 Harris Street, Ultimo.