THE GLOBAL HIV/AIDS EPIDEMIC AFTER 30 YEARS
« Stigma against people living with HIV and those at higher risk of infection persists. This is a human rights violation that also hampers our ability to address AIDS. Stigma, discrimination, punitive laws, gender inequality and violence continue to inflame the epidemic and thwart our strongest efforts to ‘get to zero’ »
Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, 2012
« A vigorous civil society is central to holding partners and countries to account for honoring the commitments they make. People living with HIV, people at higher risk of HIV infection, women and young people must therefore be present at the tables where decisions are made. […] Getting to zero discrimination requires us to do more than protect people who are vulnerable to HIV – we must empower them »
Michel Sidibé, Executive Director UNAIDS, 2012
Even though globally many are acting as HIV and AIDS are no longer the threat they were when it all began, the epidemic is not over yet. Throughout the years, tremendous progress has been done in stabilizing or reducing rates of new infections but, until now, the global response has hinged on the largesse of a relatively small handful of wealthy donor countries. Today though, in the current economic climate, their commitment is unpredictable and undependable, yet millions of lives depend on them.
Too many Governments are not honoring their commitments to provide an effective response to the epidemic, including failure to safeguarding human rights, demanding fair drug prices and lowering barriers to obtaining low-cost drugs and commodities in the current TRIPS agreement. Besides, what is even more worrisome is that efforts to discover newer, less toxic medicines are waning as pharmaceutical companies seek other more lucrative markets. Although the talk about HIV and AIDS is today very little if compared with the 90s’, the epidemic continues and nowadays it’s still one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases, especially among younger people. Since its beginning – the first cases were reported by the CDC back in 1981 while the virus was discovered back in 1983 – more than 75 millions people have been infected with HIV and more than 36 millions have died of AIDS-related causes. Today there are almost 36 million people living with HIV around the world – two thirds live in sub-Saharan Africa – and in 2012 alone there were 2.3 million new infections.
OUT OF SIGHT is a photojournalistic project on the global HIV/AIDS epidemic after thirty years. I’ve investigated the epidemic between 2011 and 2013 in five countries: Thailand, Mozambique, Brazil, Ukraine and the US. These countries have been carefully chosen because of their own specificities that make them, in a positive or negative way, representative of the epidemic and therefore suitable to better explain and deeply comprehend one or more of the many aspects related to it.
OUT OF SIGHT is a journey into the epidemic that aims to inform the public about the lives of those who suffer from or are affected by it and of those who work to improve the HIV+ population’s living conditions, for the respect of their rights, to research for a cure and to advocate for free acess to treatment and medicines for all those who are in need. The project intends to be a visual and narrative prevention tool – the photographic body of work is enriched with articles, infographics and insights – to help create more awareness about the disease.
OUT OF SIGHT was produced thanks to the contribution of the Department of Reproductive Health of the World Health Organization and was officially launched online on December 1st 2013, the 25th World AIDS Day.
You can see the project here: www.outofsight.info