What does aging with HIV look like? Increased access to antiretroviral therapy is enabling people around the world to live with HIV into their 50s, 60s, and beyond, but we rarely see their faces or hear their stories in the media or popular culture.
The Graying of AIDS: Stories from an Aging Pandemic is the first-ever documentary project on HIV and aging around the globe. Participatory exhibitions and an online archive feature a growing collection of portraits and interviews that challenge stereotypes about both HIV/AIDS and aging, proving that in increasingly diverse communities and environments, an HIV/AIDS diagnosis need no longer the “death sentence” it once was.
Stories from an Aging Pandemic began at AIDS2012 in Washington, DC, and traveled to AIDS2014 in Melbourne, Australia. Participatory documentary installations include a pop-up portrait studio, an interview station, and an evolving gallery of images and quotes. Adults aged 50 and older who self-identify as aging with HIV or AIDS are invited to pose for a formal portrait, while targeted oral history interviews explore similarities and differences in participants’ personal experiences living and aging with the virus around the world. To date, the project has worked with over 100 people from over 17 countries and 4 indigenous nations. We hope to further diversify the stories represented and complete the project at the next biennial International AIDS Conference, AIDS2016, in Durban, South Africa.
Who We Are
The Graying of AIDS is a collaboration between documentary photographer Katja Heinemann and health educator and writer Naomi Schegloff, MPH, that began in 2010. The project started as an examination of what it means to age with HIV/AIDS in the United States with the aim of engaging, educating, and supporting those living and aging with HIV, as well as those working with them in health, social service, and health policy fields. When the International AIDS Conference came to the United States for the first time in almost 20 years in 2012, we seized the opportunity to expand our focus to explore the stories and perspectives of people aging with HIV/AIDS around the globe.
The Graying of AIDS project is “platform agnostic”: we recognize that different media work well when reaching out to different audiences.
The Well Beyond HIV traveling exhibition (curated in collaboration with Walgreens) has toured community spaces in Miami, San Francisco, Chicago, and Washington, DC, and will be coming to New York City in November 2015 (future tour stops TBD). The 2014 Age is Not a Condom Campaign (created with ACRIA) brought eye-catching, sex- and body-positive safer sex and HIV-testing messages featuring older adults to bus shelters throughout New York City.
Tailored print and multimedia pieces for both general interest and targeted/professional media outlets and nonprofit partners speak to a range of audiences. Exhibitions in community spaces increase awareness among more general audiences. Presentations for classrooms, conferences, and professional meetings aim to increase sensitivity and inclusiveness among current and future health care social service providers, and throughout the research and public policy communities.
The Graying of AIDS is a fiscally-sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. If you would like to make a donation to help us continue our work, contributions to The Graying of AIDS can be made through Fractured Atlas and are tax-deductible in the US to the extent permitted by law.