Photographers' Blog

Hope in the fight against AIDS

By Mike Segar

The photos in this project, conceived ahead of this week’s International AIDS Conference, are not the dramatic, heartbreaking, moving sort that we have been used to seeing of AIDS patients from the ‘80s and ‘90s. What I came to quickly realize is that this story, or I should say this portion of it, is about hope – hope and recovery. Living and learning to live as best one can with a disease the world has come to know all too well as an indiscriminate killer.

Take for example the hope that I saw in the eyes of 40-year-old AIDS patient Bobby Billingsly, a man who was close to death when he arrived at Broadway House in Newark, New Jersey, with a CD4 count near zero in 2009, an indication of what is known as Full blown AIDS.

GALLERY: AIDS IN BLACK AMERICA

With the care of nursing, physical therapy and support staff, the latest in AIDS fighting medication, exercise, healthy diet and therapy, Billingsly is becoming the picture of hope – at least to me. He has slowly been able to raise his CD4 count to nearly 200, improving his overall health and hoping to live as long as possible with AIDS. Twenty years ago he would surely have faced a speedy death. Perhaps most hopeful is the attitude he shows of resolve and determination to move forward — something he said he had little of when he arrived. When I asked him how he looks at having AIDS now as opposed to then he says, ”With the medication, workouts, and all we do here, there is reason to believe that you can beat this thing, maybe not beat it, but not let it beat you.” That stuck with me.

Ahead of the AIDS conference, being held in the U.S. for the first time since 1990, I was asked to take a look at something related to HIV/AIDS in America. Not much direction or specifics were given, but rather more of an open palette. My first reaction was: kind of a big subject. But I decided that I would be willing to take a swing at finding out something about people living with the HIV virus in America, who some of them actually are, and try to at least put a human face on this devastating disease to see what I could learn.

After months of mostly meeting with rejection in my efforts to gain access to any AIDS care facility, or clinic, or hospital, I was becoming somewhat frustrated. When a photographer for an international wire service writes and calls trying to get the chance to photograph people infected with HIV and those suffering from AIDS in an attempt to get a glimpse of their life for our readers, it is not surprising that people would be cautious and want to protect their privacy.

Stepping into the endless abyss

By Jason Lee

According to official reports, there will be 780,000 HIV-positive people in China by the end of 2011. As drug injection is one of the main causes of AIDS infections, the Chinese government has to face the situation and come up with appropriate solutions to help those estimated 1.8 million drug users in China.

Yunnan, a province located in southwest China at the border of the Golden Triangle, is a hot zone for AIDS infections. It took great effort to apply to the Yunnan province judicial and public security offices to receive permission allowing me to photograph a compulsory drug rehabilitation center and a drug addicts recovery community in provincial capital Kunming.

Most people think that drug addicts are a group of people who are full of lies. This shows how drugs can change a person’s humanity. I have heard so many painful stories from drug addicts. What we need urgently is a good solution to help them get back to normal lives. Because of China’s large population, I believe it is the government’s duty to help. After I finished transmitting my pictures from Yunnan, a picture editor commented “They seem to be pretty good over there.” I replied, “Yes, and I think if ever my friend becomes addicted to drugs, I will personally suggest that he goes there.”

from Russell Boyce:

Asia – A Week in Pictures February 13, 2011

First, congratulations to Pakistan Chief photographer Adrees Latif and Bangladesh based photographer Andrew Biraj for their competition awards this week.  Adrees is the winner of the photojournalism category of the ICP Infinity Awards 2011 for his pictures shoot during the floods in Pakistan last year.  Andrew won third prize in the singles category of daily life in the World Press Photo Awards for his picture of an overcrowded train in Bangladesh.

PAKISTAN-FLOODS/

Marooned flood victims looking to escape grab the side bars of a hovering Army helicopter which arrived to distribute food supplies in the Muzaffargarh district of Pakistan's Punjab province August 7, 2010. Pakistanis desperate to get out of flooded villages threw themselves at helicopters on Saturday as more heavy rain was expected to intensify both suffering and anger with the government. The disaster killed more than 1,600 people and disrupted the lives of 12 million.  REUTERS/Adrees Latif

PHOTOGRAPHY-PRIZE/

An overcrowded train approaches as other passengers wait to board at a railway station in Dhaka, November 16, 2010. Millions of residents in Dhaka are travelling home from the capital city to celebrate the Eid al-Adha holiday on Wednesday. Muslims around the world celebrate Eid al-Adha to mark the end of the haj by slaughtering sheep, goats, cows and camels to commemorate Prophet Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son Ismail on God's command. REUTERS/Andrew Biraj

AIDS: Wat Prabat Nampu temple, Thailand

Photographer Damir Sagolj presents a multimedia look at a hospice for those dying of AIDS at a Buddhist temple Wat Prabat Nampu in Lopburi, Thailand.

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