UK-based global development agency Christian Aid has announced a photo project on living with stigma timed to prepare for, and mark, World AIDS Day on 1 December.
The charity has partnered with Magnum Photos to launch ‘Stigma Under The Lens’, a series of thought-provoking audio-photographic slideshows featuring people around the world living with HIV under the shadow of stigma.
Four Magnum photographers (Alessandra Sanguinetti, Peter van Agtmael, Olivia Arthur and Patrick Zachmann) travelled to Kenya, Bolivia, Tajikistan, India, and the UK to record powerful testimonies that tell of discrimination by friends, family and society at large.
There have been many medical advances in the past 30 years since HIV was first identified, yet stigma remains the biggest barrier to people around the world accessing lifesaving treatment.
The stories examine how stigma manifests itself in everyday life for someone who has HIV, and go some way to explaining why thousands of people would rather not know their status than face discrimination at home, in their community, at work and within their faith.
Winnie Ssanyu Sseruma, Advocacy officer for HIV at Christian Aid said: "Stigma is the biggest barrier to effectively tackling the spread of HIV. If HIV, and the stigma that surrounds the illness, is not understood and addressed then it will continue to devastate populations across the globe. Family, friends, communities and the church all have a role to play in helping to break down barriers of ignorance and misunderstanding. Self stigma is also a big problem and means that many people are too afraid to speak out for fear of what others might say about them; they are even too scared to visit a doctor and seek potentially life saving treatment."
The audio-photographic slideshows will be available online at christianaid.org.uk/hiv from 28 November 2011 and a photographic exhibition will appear at Rich Mix (35-47 Bethnal Green Road, London E1 6LA (www.richmix.org.uk ) from 28 November until 11 December.