“I was diagnosed as HIV positive in October 1996. My immediate reaction was to be afraid and scared. I thought that perhaps I would not live through the turn of a new century.
However difficult this was for me, I felt very fortunate to have a good support system and access to health care and the new lifesaving drugs, which my doctor reassured me were changing the course of the disease for many people.
In 1999 I began work on a project with the Columbia School of Public Health, photographing spaces that provide housing for people with HIV and AIDS. I then decided, since I had been making so many portraits, that I would do a journalistic essay of portraits of long-term survivors.
Certainly the burden of HIV is more severe when the sufferer is poor. I have noted how my own privilege has made the ordeal of HIV somewhat easier for me, and for this I feel lucky. But I also feel a sense of the unfairness of the world. I know that if I were sick with AIDS in Botswana or Thailand, the resources to help me would be far fewer.
Twenty-five years into this epidemic, we are still without a cure. What scares me the most, of course, is getting sick. I have not had an AIDS related illness up to this point, but how long can that last?
Watching others fight HIV can be both heartening and frightening. I think that when anyone with HIV learns of a person who has died of AIDS, we think, ‘That could be me.’ But in these people’s stories there is also hope. Having been positive for only seven years, I think I have projected onto these survivors my own desire for longevity. It’s that hope that keeps us all fighting.”
More of his work can be seen here