In December 2021, as a part of World AIDS Day celebrations, GCN and HIV Ireland launched ‘LIVING: A unique portrayal of people living with HIV in Ireland’. The photographic exhibition was housed in CHQ Dublin for just under three weeks, and the newly released LIVING publication gives readers a chance to experience it again.
The LIVING publication, much like the exhibition, features a series of portraits giving visibility to and celebrating the diversity of people living with HIV in Ireland. The photographs taken by Hazel Coonagh are accompanied by moving interviews as those involved share their personal highs and lows of navigating life with the virus.
It has been 40 years since the emergence of HIV and AIDS, and yet, there are still many outdated stereotypes that still need to be challenged today.
Among the thirteen participants is Rory O’Neill aka National treasure Panti Bliss. Speaking about the project at the exhibition launch, Panti said: “What will eventually remove the stigma, and fear and ignorance around HIV is when we get to a point where everyone feels able to be open and honest about it.
“This exhibition is a perfect example of people standing up […] to be beautifully photographed, to openly, honestly, proudly even in a weird way, say ‘Yes, I am living with HIV and look at me I’m doing absolutely great!’”
Just back from launching the LIVING exhibition at @EPICMuseumCHQ, a series of portraits by photog Hazel Coonagh of people living and thriving with HIV, put together by @GCNmag and @HIVIreland. And they gave me a copy of the pic of whoever this butch outdoorsy bastard is pic.twitter.com/70OShu1RX6
— Dr Panti Bliss-Cabrera (@PantiBliss) December 1, 2021
Other participants include the legendary Tonie Walsh, trailblazer Liz Martin, GCN cover star Rebecca Tallon de Havilland, and nine other equally inspiring folks.
With the launch of the new publication, HIV Ireland’s Susan Donlon and co-producer of the project: “The souvenir booklet importantly amplifies the voices of the LIVING participants who voluntarily and proudly stepped forward to be part of a drive to increase the visibility of people living with HIV and challenge stigma.
“There is no shame in living with HIV, and their inspirational stories in the booklet will no doubt be a source of encouragement to others,” she continued.
The LIVING project is proudly supported and funded by GSK, the HSE Sexual Health and Crisis Pregnancy Programme, Dublin Pride and EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum. To purchase a copy of the limited edition LIVING exhibition booklet, click here.
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