I just arrived back in Rome for the opening of the The Access to Life / Global Fund Exhibition which is being held at the Museo dell’Ara Pacis in Rome, which will be open from September 18 to October 18.
I had photographed the AIDS patients before, but this assignment was different. It offered me the chance to see the positive results of the new AIDS treatments. The plan was that I was to meet people who were being given free treatment that would keep them alive.
Tiep had a breakfast stall in the market that was her family’s main source of income. But once people learned that her husband, Khanh (above) had AIDS, many of them stopped buying food from her. Yet Khanh represents the positive side of the AIDS story; he’s now recovering and knows it wouldn’t have turned out this way had he not received free treatment. Tiep feels that treatment has brought dignity back to her family. “When you’re between death and life and you come back…your health becomes precious.”
Today, three million people around the world are alive thanks to antiretroviral treatment for AIDS, up from 350,000 just five years ago. By 2010, more than five million people are likely to have been given access to these drugs. Yet there is a long way to go before all the people with HIV who need these life-saving drugs have access to them. Today, the need is for 10 million people, but until we can stem the growth in new HIV infections, that number will continue to grow.
Many of us are in a position to help others, but few of us are aware of what we can do–or what a difference our contribution can make. I hope my photographs help people become more informed and find a way to contribute.