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Living With AIDS
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Video: Why We Chose Africa
In some cases these accounts are edited versions of a spoken interview. They have not been researched and may differ from the printed article.
Photograph by Rebecca Hale

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Living With AIDS

    Since 1993 I've been shooting stories about AIDS in Eastern Europe, India, South America, and Africa. And it's always very humbling and moving for me to see how much families can give of themselves when someone is sick. I met a seven-year-old South African boy named Zamokuhle who got AIDS from his mother. She has passed away, so now his grandmother and cousins take care of him. They are very open and loving about his condition, and I think that gives him a lot of strength. Their attitude is quite a contrast to a lot of families in South Africa who would rather not know about the illness.
    I also spent a lot of time with a teenage girl named Nomfumaneko. She died last fall, but I'll never forget her fantastic loving family and the way they always surrounded themselves around her. The first time she took her antiretroviral medication (see pages 66-7), they even sat with her to show their support. 
    I spent one morning outside the main clinic in Lusikisiki with a long line of patients who were waiting to get in. I felt as if I was witnessing a kind of concentration camp because there were so many skeletal people being carried in and out. As a photographer my instinct was to document everything. But since I had promised the clinic I wouldn't take any pictures of patients without their permission, I couldn't even lift my camera. It was also difficult because I had become used to putting the camera between myself and the horror of shocking situations. This time I couldn't do that.
    In rural areas of South Africa HIV/AIDS is often completely hidden because there is such an extreme stigma attached to it. But because several organizations in Lusikisiki have been working to change that perception, the community has mobilized to spread a culture of openness and awareness. Whether they're HIV positive or not, people are wearing T-shirts that read "HIV positive" to show their support.

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