Introduction of the videos
People who are HIV-positive are ordinary people who participate in life, like everyone else. They have a job, they study, they care for their children. They fall in love, have a relationship, get divorced. They go out, play a sport, exercise, flirt, get pregnant and have babies. The available medication is effective and causes few side effects. It is possible to live a good life with HIV.
Portraits of people with HIV
A strong attitude to life
In order to reduce the taboo and stigma surrounding (life with) HIV and give people with HIV an identity five videos were made of HIV-positive people, each with a different cultural background and social situation. What they have in common is that they all have a positive and strong attitude to life and have found a way to cope with HIV. Each one of them shows that it is possible to have a good life with HIV, even when it is not possible to talk about it with others. The topics in these videos are: religion, sexuality, taboo and breaking it, the desire to have children, medication, support, dating and going out.
We also see five directly acquainted people who speak about the role of HIV in their lives: a daughter, a husband, a best friend, a confidante and an HIV specialist nurse.
Synopsis 1 : Gloria’s story
Gloria, 37 years old, was born in Suriname and has lived in the Netherlands (Rotterdam) since 2001. Since 2005 she knows that she is infected with HIV. She had skin problems and went to her physician. As nothing seemed to help, her physician advised her to get tested for HIV. Gloria, who has an 18-year-old daughter, has a job in elderly care and does volunteer work, including giving support to other people with HIV. Her belief in God is unshakeable. Gloria feels that life should be celebrated and that you should not care about what other people think.
Her daughter Sigourney is also filmed and interviewed.
Synopsis 2: Amanda’s story
Amanda, 26 years old, was born in Zimbabwe. After the death of her parents and younger brother due to AIDS she is adopted by an uncle who has a Dutch wife. When she is 22 years old Amanda takes an STI test as she starts her first sexual relationship. She finds out that she is HIV-positive. Amanda assumes that her boyfriend has infected her, but he is HIV-negative. Her uncle then tells Amanda that she was born HIV-positive, but that her grandfather, the patriarch of the family, had decided to keep it from her and to swear the whole family to secrecy. Amanda writes about (living with) HIV.
Her Nigerian confidante Dolapo is also filmed.
Synopsis 3: James’ story
James, 33 years old, is a Dutch citizen whose family originates from Ghana. He lives and studies in Amsterdam. James belongs to the first generation of Ghanaians born in the Netherlands. As for most African people his family and family ties are very important to him. Since June 2007 James knows that he is HIV-positive. For fear of being expelled from his family James has not told any of his acquaintances or family members that he carries this virus. He keeps this secret to himself. Despite the fact that he does not want to be recognised in the video James does feel that it is very important to tell his story. Participating in this project is a big step for him.
One of the few people James can talk to openly is Hans, his HIV specialist nurse. Hans is therefore interviewed as well.
Synopsis 4: Liako’s story
Liako, 36 years old, was born in Lesotho and moved to South Africa in 2000. She has lived in the Netherlands since 2011 where she married a Dutch man. Liako follows a coaching and counselling course in Rotterdam. Since 1998 she knows that she has HIV. She has an eleven-year-old daughter from a previous relationship; her daughter is not infected. It is Liako’s wish to get pregnant again and have another baby with her husband. She gladly participates in this video project in order to break the taboo surrounding HIV.
You will see her husband Dion telling his side of the story in another video.
Synopsis 5: Pablo’s story
Pablo, 29 years old, was born in Mexico and has lived in Amsterdam for more than three years. Since 2008 he knows that he is HIV-positive. Pablo is a single homosexual man; he is the manager of the HIV Young Leaders Fund, an international organisation that protects the position of young people with HIV and of those directly involved and that enhances this position via lobby and offering ‘small grants’. Pablo takes medication for his HIV infection, his viral load is undetectable. He has a large circle of friends and acquaintances, he goes out on dates and talks openly about HIV.
Pablo’s cousin Ricardo, who is also his best friend, is his counterpartner.