World AIDS Day

Until There's A Cure Bracelet. ©Alina Oswald

Reporting on the HIV and AIDS pandemic on World AIDS Day and around the year

UTAC bracelet. B&W photography.

December 1 is World AIDS Day (WAD), and oftentimes a reminder for media outlets to mention the words “HIV” and “AIDS.” Yet, for millions of people living with the virus, World AIDS Day is every day. And also, those covering HIV and AIDS day in and day out, also consider December 1, WAD, yet another opportunity to bring to the fore the collective story of HIV and AIDS…because, after all, HIV is still here, there is still no vaccine, and there is no cure.

While I can talk forever about my own journey covering HIV and AIDS for twenty years and counting, oftentimes I hesitate to do so, not to come across as “preaching” because then, people’s minds might shut down, and that would not be good now, would it. So, sadly, even to this day, talking about HIV and AIDS or even covering the pandemic can be a tricky situation.

And yet, while covering HIV and AIDS, I’ve met amazing and inspiring individuals–activists, artists, scientists–who have helped ignite that much-needed desire to connect with a story and tell that story in the most compelling way possible.

So, today, I’d like to share with you a few images capturing a few HIV and AIDS stories on World AIDS Day, as well as many other days:

Until There’s A Cure AIDS Awareness bracelet:

My thoughts on wearing the AIDS awareness bracelet – excerpt from an article highlighting the 25th anniversary of the Until There’s A Cure foundation originally published in A&U Magazine:

I bought my own Until There’s A Cure bracelet some fifteen years ago. I had heard about it and always admired not only its design—a simple band with an (AIDS) ribbon engraved on it—but mostly its symbolism and impact on the ongoing fight against HIV and AIDS. To this day I believe that, although the bracelet itself, is an eye-catcher, it is the ribbon that truly grabs the attention. Some would admire my bracelet, while others would just stare at it with question marks in their eyes. Few would actually ask questions and linger long enough to hear the full answer. And then one day, while attending a neighborhood gathering, I was pleasantly surprised to notice that one of my neighbors was also wearing the bracelet. That started a conversation right there and then, just between the two of us. I still wear the bracelet, as does that neighbor, as do many other people.

Angel in Central Park” ©Alina Oswald. Lensbaby b&w image of the Bethesda Angel (aka Angel of the Waters) fountain statue by Emma Stebbins, in Central Park. Inspired by the movie Angels in America.

The NYC AIDS Memorial:

And also Visual Impact: On Art, AIDS, and Activism, a public art installation displaying eight symbolic #AIDS #activist #artworks, including my favorites, #Undetectable and in particular Silence = Death.

In 2007, I had the chance to cover a World AIDS Day event for Out IN Jersey Magazine. While photographing the performances, I captured the image below and called it “Identity.” It was later featured in the (then) annual Fresh Fruit Festival show at the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art, in New York City.

"Identity" WAD 2007. Photo by Alina Oswald.
“Identity” © Alina Oswald, photographed while covering a WAD 2007 event. “Identity” was featured in a Fresh Fruit Festival art show hosted by the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art, in NYC.

On World AIDS Day 2018, I attended the opening of REMEMBER: An AIDS Retrospective photography show which featured Kurt Weston‘s black-and-white portraits of the AIDS pandemic and was hosted by the Orange County Center for Contemporary Art (OCCCA). Here are a few images:

The 30th Anniversary of the Silence = Death poster and the Found exhibition curated by artist and co-founder of the Silence = Death collective, Avram Finkelstein. The event took place in the summer of 2017 at the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art, in New York City, and I got to photograph it for A&U Magazine.

In 2014 I became a member of the Undetectable flash collective.

“Collectives are organisms. Our commons is an exercise in collectivity.” Artist, activist and author Avram Finkelstein.

Many more WAD- and HIV-related images, photo shoots, interviews, and other stories are posted on my Published Work page. Feel free to take a look.

AIDS Awareness Red Ribbon
World AIDS Day red ribbon. Also published in A&U Magazine. ©Alina Oswald

As always, thanks for stopping by,

Alina Oswald

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