The project focuses on presenting a wide variety of personal stories of people living with HIV. This series is a collaboration: a photographic portrait presents the person and the audio interview captures the personal story of the diagnosis, the ways of accepting it and how living with the virus turned out. By letting the person tell their own story the interview is also an oral history, to create an archive of stories for future generations. The people I portray are all open about their status; most of them are activists fighting the stigma of HIV/Aids. The project will show the positive progress the community living with HIV made towards greater equality through community engagement and legal reform.
Experiencing the pain and struggle of dear friends being diagnosed with HIV made me interested in the stigmatisation and discrimination related to HIV. As a friend once said “It is not the virus that makes me struggle, it is the reaction of society.” By the end of 2017, 36.9 million people worldwide were living with HIV. Statistics show that new diagnoses have been declining since their peak in 2005, but coming out as HIV positive is still a massive step. Living in Mongolia from 2090 to 2013, I collaborated with UN Aids to create campaigns around safe sex and sexual education. At that time, people needed to prove that they were HIV negative to be allowed in public swimming pools. Creating space to tell stories of everyday people living with HIV, I hope to stimulate conversation to address prejudices.
Mareike Günsche is a London-based photographer and educator focusing on human rights and gender issues, with a special interest in photography’s ability to empower. She is senior lecturer in photography at the State University of Arts in Mongolia. After working as a press-photographer, Mareike studied photojournalism and documentary photography, supported by a scholarship from the Hans-Böckler Foundation. Her work has since appeared in international media including Zeit, Spiegel, Cicero and she has worked as a stringer for Reuters news agency. Her project “Dragkings” was awarded the Canon Award for young Photographers; her series “You Are My Sister” about a Mongolian transgender woman won “The Other Hundred” award. Her project “Our Voice ” helped to create visibility of domestic violence in Mongolia and contributed to the establishment of a law that recognises domestic violence as a crime. Her work has been exhibited in Europe, Asia and the States. More information can be found on her homepage http://www.aspect-us.com/