We Are Still Here invites you into the homes of the HIV/AIDS community.
Our project focuses on the personal lived experiences of people living with HIV. In particular, we use the project to document, both photographically and in audio interviews, the spaces in which people living with HIV feel ‘at home’. We conceptualise home here as something both spatial and spiritual; a ‘place’ of comfort, ‘family’ and safety. In the project, people living with HIV share their experiences on how the virus impacted their lives, their relationships and their personal spaces. Through storytelling and visualisation an intimate insight into the lives of our participants is revealed.
‘We Are Still Here’ is intended as a celebration of the lives and struggles of those living with HIV during a period that has witnessed the virus fade from public consciousness. In the midst of one global pandemic, we have chosen to concentrate on another that has fallen from view. While people living with HIV are now largely invisible in countries like the UK, the pandemic is still very much alive. Nearly 37 million people in the world are living with HIV and still have to deal with prejudice that is attendant with forms of exclusion. If the full scale of the pandemic is to be addressed, then the HIV-community must be made visible once again.
In this project, we are using photography and the participants’ own stories, told in their own voices, as means to highlight that the HIV-community is ‘still here’. We see photography as a tool for empowerment. By creating images, narratives come to life. These images have power. They demonstrate and shape identity. Importantly, using these images in conjunction with the participants’ stories (and the stories of their loved ones), we endeavour to help shape the narrative surrounding people living with HIV in the 2020s.
We offer our thanks and gratitude to our participants as well as The Brigstow Institute at the University of Bristol and the Bristol Photo Festival for recognising our project’s worth and providing both financial, moral, and logistical support.