featured gallery for December 2015
These images touched me deeply! it is my journey and other people's journeys. I am here to tell a story and to let people know that HIV is not the end! We must know our past to understand what we are living now and our future. HIV is just a human condition and we are not less than anyone!
We are fighting for our lives and showing our faces to take away the stigma of HIV. I don't understand why we have 50,000 new infections a year in the USA, why every 9 1/2 minutes a person from 13-26 gets HIV? Why? We need more education! We need more people to come out of the HIV closet and to humanize this condition.
I appreciate this opportunity to share my journey through images!! Very humbled and proud to be a part of this Visual AIDS project and a collaborator.
Love and Light, Maria Mejia
1) stVincent, "EUROPA"
This image represents me. I am feminine, I wear heels and I have HIV but it still does not take away from my femininity. I have been told that I should not represent HIV in such a sexy way, but I will always be me and that is being a sexy woman that happens to have HIV
2) Hannecke Gustavo, "A Paint"
This image represents in my eyes the loneliness that we can feel sometimes. It is that dark place we all go through, and the extended hand represents to me that it is OK to ask for help.
3) Hannecke Gustavo, "Symbiosis Modified"
This image represents power and strength to me. I describe myself as a warrior and this is what I feel when I see this image! A warrior trying to carry the world on my shoulders and help save lives and give hope to the hopeless.
4) Jeffrey Scott, "HIV Sampler"
This image represents to me home and education! HIV/AIDS education should be started at home and we need to bring back sexual education to schools! I am still NOT allowed to say the word "condom" in schools! Our youth need to know the ABCs of HIV.
5) Jaiden Benz, "Test Tube World v1"
This represents to me what we will have to deal with forever! Bloodwork and the stress that comes with it! This will most likely be a part of my life every 4 months.
6) L. Robert Westeen, "Criminalization Is Not A Cure"
This image represents injustice, but it also represents disclosure! HIV criminalization is real and we need to change many laws! Anyone can be affected by this and end up in prison and in the sex offenders list if you do not disclose your status... even if you are undetectable.
7) L. Robert Westeen, "Until"
This image says it all! Chemicals taken everyday of my life! This is why I tell the youth and older people that I educate! HIV/AIDS is not a death sentence anymore, but it is a life sentence!
8) L. Robert Westeen, "Serenity and Safety in Chaos"
This image represents me as well, this is how I see it! I am a woman and I have to be serene! I have ups and downs like everyone else. I have to be serene in this chaos that we call life, so the ones that look up to me for for support feel safe and most importantly for myself.
9) L. Robert Westeen, "Larry Kramer"
What can I say about this brilliant man! I owe him my life! If it weren't for ACT UP and GMHC and their fight, I would not be alive!
10) Javier Rocabado, "Cruz"
I am Roman Catholic so this image speaks to me! In one hand the cross represents Christ, my lord, and then we see hell! Well, the church has to get educated on HIV and this is what I am trying to do! HIV/AIDS is not a curse from God and people need to understand this.
11) Andrew Spencer, "Resurrection Cocktail (ACT UP Zine Cover)"
The image says it all! ACT UP saved my life and fought for our rights to medicine!
12) Andrew Spencer, "Remember"
This image touched me. We must NEVER FORGET OUR PAST! I will always remember all of these warriors that lost their lives! Never forget all my brothers and sisters.
13) W. Benjamin Incerti, "Untitled"
I notice the image was made in 1991, this is when I was diagnosed, one week after my 18th birthday in 1991 and infected in 1989. This is so deep and true! And it is one of the images that pushed me to be the activist that I am becoming! Those people in my eyes are heros.
14) Shan Kelley, "Postcards - ii"
Disclosure is very important to me! As my wife says: "I am always going to love you and I was educated on HIV! But your honesty and giving me a choice made me respect you and love you more."
15) Shan Kelley, "Postcards - iv"
In 1992 my HIV doctor told me that I had to take bactrim for life! I told him no, I want to use it when I really need it. He responded: "Why does it matter? You will die soon... You are in the last phase!" I cried like a little girl and my mother was with me and told him off! The irony! I am still here after 26 years with HIV and he is no longer with us.
16) Shan Kelley, "Disclosures I"
This what everyone living HIV wants! We are just human beings with the condition of HIV and we do not want to be rejected or for people to fear us. Ignorance and lack of knowledge causes fear! This is why I educate the world.
17) Shan Kelley, "Disclosures V"
Sometimes I feel burned out with the world on my shoulders and my spirit pushes me through. This is why I must mentor this generation and the ones that are coming after this one, so they continue carrying the torch until we can END AIDS.
18) Darkroom Danny, "Human #4"
Moments when we are tired and worried with HIV/AIDS--we all go through this no matter how long we have lived with this condition.
19) Darkroom Danny, "Filth"
Filthy, unclean, dirty--these are many of the things we hear from ignorant people! We are human and we just have a condition, a virus! We are not unclean and I try to educate many to understand that we are not "dirty" untouchables! Living with the HIV virus does not equal being filthy.
20) Hector Toscano, "Domino"
The maze of medications: which one will work, am I resistant, will it damage my internal organs? Fear is natural! What I do know is that these medications have kept me alive and we can keep others from getting HIV by taking our medications.
21) Max Greenberg, "AIDS 101 - An Intensive"
SIDA: As a Latina it is essential to educate in both languages and create spaces for people living or affected with HIV. Many people in Latin America are hungry for information on medicine and just how to live with the virus! This is why I am the founder of the two largest online support groups from all continents--50% are Latinos.
22) Max Greenberg, "Medicine Man"
I feel that this image represents all people living with HIV and on treatments! Thousands and thousands of medication all over our body! At the same time it is what keeps the heart going! Medication is life.
23) Max Greenberg, "Bondage"
This image is powerful and it represents how I feel and many feel: slaves to our medication! You take it, you live! You stop it, you die! We are bonded until the cure comes.
24) Chloe Dzubilo, "Untitled (Where Is God)"
Where is God? This is something I ask myself in my darkest hours and it is a very valid question when you are suffering.
25) Veritee Reed Hall, "Poz Women & Proud"
This image is very special to me! The person that did this, Veritee, is one of my good friends from the UK and one of my administrators for my international support group! This is who we are as women living with HIV! We come in all colors, shapes, cultures but we are in this together fighting the good fight.
26) Ian Richards, "Undetectable"
This is the end to the journey, I hope! This is what all people living with HIV strive for!
Undetectable!! This means to me that I am saving my life and that when I am undetectable I am saving other people's lives!
HIV stops with me.