It’s important to put a face to a disease. When a disease has a face, it is harder to ignore. It makes the search for more adequate treatment a priority. And when a disease like HIV has a face, it make the fight for a cure that much more important. That’s why we asked several HIV-positive New Yorkers to share with us intimate moments and places from their daily lives. In a country where HIV is no longer thought of as a death sentence, how does the disease still affect their day-to-day lives? Do positive New Yorkers still fight discrimination? Stigma? Hate?
By boldly allowing us to reveal their status and showcase their lives—as countless activists and leaders have done before them—we hope they can remind New York of HIV’s ever-present reality and continue to stress to our community the importance of safe sex, sexual education, access to adequate treatment and funding for research. HIV might not always equal death anymore, but it has still changed the lives of these New Yorkers forever.
Todd V. Lamb
At 9th Avenue Saloon. “What never ceases to amaze me is that no matter how much progress and change we see with HIV, how much stays the same. Last Saturday, I was having a couple drinks at my favorite bar and an attractive guy was chatting me up. We talked for about an hour and it looked like we were going to leave together. Then he asked me my status and I told him I am HIV positive, he told me he is negative. We chatted a few minutes longer, then he excused himself to go to the bathroom and didn’t come back. This happens a lot and I am not mad at the guy because he has every right to be uncomfortable with being with a man who is HIV positive. I was man enough to look him in the eye and be honest about my status, in return, I deserved him to be man enough to look me in the eye and tell me that was a deal breaker.”
At Chelsea Piers. “After finding out I was positive I would go to the piers and stare out into the water while listening to my music in order to calm myself. I could let all my thoughts run wild and by the time I leave I’d feel a little bit better.”
At Times Square. “Since coming out about my status I’ve learned to live honest and openly about everything in life. This place is a reminder of how I used to sweat the small things, but since being diagnosed, I’ve learned I have bigger things to worry about than the small stuff.”
Miguel Angel Cruz
At The Highline. “As an artist I see beauty in everything and I think that HIV is just a small part of the big picture that is Miguel Angel Cruz. If people without HIV can understand that, they can understand my relation to The Highline and its never-ending, ever-changing beauty.”