Tag Archives: Aids

Generation of Orphans: South Africa’s Children of AIDS

One night in 2003, Agnes Dlamini woke to the sound of her infant grandson crying. His mother — Dlamini’s daughter-in-law — had died after a long illness. The baby was left on top of her emaciated body, sucking helplessly at his mother’s lifeless breast.

That tragedy, Dlamini now knows, is the result of South Africa’s failure to address the spread of HIV. But back then, she had no idea. At the time, the country’s President Thabo Mbeki was sympathetic to AIDS denialists. His Minister of Health was nicknamed Dr. Beetroot for championing the plant as a treatment for HIV/AIDS. Anti­retroviral drugs weren’t available until 2004 and were difficult to obtain for many years after that.

The legacy of that denial is 3.37 million South African children under 17 without one or both parents, according to a 2011 census. Most are orphans, and some 64% are in the care of grandmothers, who bear the responsibility of a second motherhood.

The age gap makes it challenging for grand­mothers to connect with these kids and warn them about HIV. “I don’t have the right words for it,” says Dlamini, 81. “My granddaughter laughs at me when I try.” High urban unemployment, poverty and crime add to the difficulty of their task. Still, many of the gogos, the Zulu word for grandmothers, say they are hopeful they can break the cycle that claimed their children’s lives.


Elles van Gelder and Jonathan Torgovnik are based in South Africa.



Photo Stroll – My Positive Day photos by Jiří Třeštík in Prague

The Roaming Eye (tRE) is back in the Czech Republic and is on the look out for, and is enjoying coming across, some random photography. With this in mind, the q cafe has a small show downstairs in the cafe on Opatovická 12, Praha 1 until 28 July.
Czech photographer Jiří Třeštík accompanied and documented three men living with HIV in three different European cities Prague, Munich and Zurich.
So here’s a preview for those who may be interested in the small cafe/bar show…

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Filed under: Documentary photography, Photographers, Photography Shows, Uncategorized Tagged: AIDS, black and white, documentary, HIV, Jiří Třeštík, photo show, Prague

Photographer #431: Darcy Padilla

Darcy Padilla, 1965, USA, is a photojournalist and documentary photographer. Her career as a freelance photographer started after completing 12 internships at daily newspapers as The New York Times and The Washington Post. Since then she covered stories in Cuba and Haiti, on Aids in Prison and the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, just to name a few. Her most acclaimed body of work is The Julie Project. This long-term project is the story of a woman called Julie Baird. Eighteen years Darcy followed and photographed the story of AIDS, drug abuse, abusive relationships, poverty and death. Julie died on September 27th, 2010 at the age of 36, after having lived a turbulant life in which she gave birth to six children of whom the first five were taken away from her. It is an impressive, heartbreaking project with a dramatic, yet expected ending. The series rightfully received the W. Eugene Smith Award for Humanistic Photography in 2010. Amongst other awards for her work is the John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship for the work she did photographing residents of transient hotels in one of the poorest neighborhoods in San Francisco. All of the following images are from The Julie Project.

Website: www.darcypadilla.com

Krisanne Johnson Awarded the W. Eugene Smith Grant in Humanistic Photography

Coming of age for Swazi girls is tough. A tiny African nation of one million, Swaziland is ruled by one of the world’s last remaining absolute monarchies. Its age-old tradition of polygamy and its relaxed attitude toward sexuality have met in a devastating combination for women: Swaziland reports the highest percentage of HIV positive people in the world, with young women being affected most. Half of young Swazi women are HIV positive, and life expectancy has dropped from 61 years to almost 31 years over the past ten years.

Every year, young maidens from across the country gather for the Umhlanga dance, an eight-day ceremony in honor of the Queen Mother to celebrate their virginity. I first went to Swaziland in 2006 to document this annual dance and other coming of age rites of young women living amid a spreading disease and its victims—women who, even in the face of such staggering odds and deep uncertainty, still possess all the energy and enthusiasm of youth. My goal was to capture the nuances that comprise a human, rather than simply tragic, experience.

Over the past five years, the progression of this work has moved from traditional rites of passage to modern youth culture to an intimate look inside the homes of HIV-positive women. My insights have matured along with these young women. It has allowed me to witness fast-tracked intimacy and friends lost and gained. It has made me see that girls here are constantly on the verge––of giving birth to burying best friends, of finding love to fighting for life alone, stigmatized and heartbroken.

These moments in my interactions with young Swazi women remind me of the complicated, frustrating, and deeply human nature of their predicaments, choices and desires. I’ve seen childhood friends reconnect across beds in a hospice, one of which was fighting the inevitable with her lone T-cell—her “one soldier.” I’ve watched innumerable women leave their rural homes to look for nonexistent work near the city, knowing that they will make easy prey for older men who will support them for sex. I’ve photographed a young HIV-positive woman who refuses to take medication out of fear it would indicate to others her impending death. Instead, she tells me about her dreams of joining the army to earn “money like dust” to support herself and her newborn child, joking in the same breath about how she probably won’t make it to twenty and see me on my next trip back. It is difficult to comprehend how she so easily accepts the contradictions in her life. That her own mother is too scared to tell her daughter or any of her friends that she herself has started anti-retroviral treatment—out of fear of gossip and isolation—seems to underscore the frustrating reality that for every step forward, there is a step back.

And that’s the thing: there isn’t a single story, just frustrating inconsistencies. Yet on each trip, I still find a sense of hope for what the future might hold, even as they navigate this narrow bridge between life and death.

Krisanne Johnson has been working on long-term personal projects about young women and HIV/AIDS in Swaziland and post-apartheid South African youth culture since 2006. Her work has appeared in various publications, including TIME, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, among others. I Love You Real Fast is on display through Nov. 26 at The Half King in New York City. 

Stephen Shames’ Bronx Boys


© Stephen Shames

Stephen Shames spent over twenty years photographing young boys growing up in the Bronx. Although the project started as a simple photojournalism assignment, Shames quickly became fascinated by the neglected New York suburb and continued to document the vibrant streets. The fruits of his labor are finally being published as a digital monograph titled Bronx Boys (FotoEvidence). The unconventional format provides universal access to readers from around the world, as well as options to zoom in on images for close viewing.

Stephen Shames worked with Aperture for his book The Black Panthers, commemorating the fortieth anniversary of the Party. The Black Panthers Portfolio, an accompanying set of photographs is now on sale! Visit the Black Panthers microsite.

Shames is founder of Lead Uganda, which puts AIDS orphans and child soldiers into school in Uganda. He is represented by Steven Kasher Gallery, New York, and Polaris Images. He currently resides in Brooklyn.

Photographer #236: Álvaro Ybarra Zavala

Álvaro Ybarra Zavala, 1979, Spain is a photojournalist. In India he photographed HIV/Aids patients, as there are currently 2.27 million people that are HIV+. Despite being the fourth largest economy of the world, India only spends 1% of it’s GDP in healthcare. Álvaro has concentrated on difficult stories around the globe, from the Haiti earthquake to the drama of the Burmese people and from armed groups in Venezuela to the war in Darfur. The list of countries he has been to is enormous and most of them are conflict zones. He has released five books, has been published in numerous magazines and has exhibited internationally. The following images come from the stories India, Congo and Afghanistan.


Website: www.alvaroybarra.com & www.reportage-bygettyimages.com