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The Graying of AIDS - Portraits from an Aging Pandemic

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The Graying of AIDS - Portraits from an Aging Pandemic

Picture of Katja Heinemann

What does aging with HIV look like? The Graying of AIDS: Portraits from an Aging Pandemic seeks to challenge cultural stereotypes about both aging and HIV/AIDS by exploring diverse perspectives from around the world through a participatory documentary arts installation of portrait photography and targeted interviews that was created at AIDS2012, the International AIDS Conference in Washington, DC (July 22 - 27, 2012). 

The Graying of AIDS
Portraits from an Aging Pandemic
On-line Documentary and Traveling Exhibition
Saturday, December 1, 2012
A Graying Pandemic

Increased access to antiretroviral therapy is enabling more and more people around the world to live with HIV into their 50s, 60s, and beyond, but we rarely see their faces or hear their stories in the media or popular culture. Instead, most HIV/AIDS-related images and awareness campaigns tend to focus on younger bodies to such an extent that many people assume this is not an issue for older adults.

At AIDS2012, we invited adults aged 50 and older who self-identify as aging with HIV/AIDS to pose for a formal portrait; targeted interviews explored similarities and differences in participants’ personal experiences around the globe. All visitors to the on-site and on-line exhibitions, regardless of age or serostatus, were encouraged to share their thoughts and questions for older adults from around the globe living with HIV, either in person at the conference's Global Village or through social media. 

The candid questions and responses that were exchanged among the project participants, creatives and audience touched on an incredibly broad range of issues: discussions delved into survival and mortality, disclosure and stigma, activism, coping strategies and denial, family and work, loneliness, hopes and regrets, dating and sexuality, aging, shared fears and common milestones, as well as many light hearted moments and recollections. In all, we were able to photograph and interview more than 50 people representing 13 different countries, 13 U.S. states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia.

Please visit our on-line exhibition on tumblr.

Katja Heinemann / Photography
Naomi Schegloff, MPH / Interviews