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Portraits against stigma

HIV. Three simple letters that pack a punch.
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​It’s a disease like no other; in fact, it’s an easily treatable health condition that allows people to lead normal healthy lives where the disease is nearly undetectable. Still, it’s a quiet disease that many don’t want to talk about, out of fear of the social implications.

People who live with HIV come from all walks of life, yet they are still branded and identified by their illness. With one broad stroke, they are negatively looked upon and socially shunned because of a lack of understanding. Stigma itself is a dirty word, and the stigma attached to HIV is even dirtier. 

Oak Tree Clinic’s art project Portraits against stigma, hopes to break down the stigma associated with HIV to show the real people behind this liveable condition. Clients of Oak Tree participated in this project, where they had their portraits taken. They then chose stigma related words and a power word that reflected who they are.

As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. The goal of these photos is to allow viewers to see the people behind the lens, to show that they are more than an illness. They are your neighbours, coworkers, sisters, everyday people you come across. 

Let’s start the conversation, and see who people really are, change the way we think and challenge those outdated stereotypes.

It's innovative treatment like these types of art projects and Oak Tree's long history of successfully treating women and their families living with HIV that has brought the clinic recognition. This year's World AIDS Day, Oak Tree is one of six recipients of AIDS Vancouver's Red Ribbon Award.

BC Women's Hospital + Health Centre; Oak Tree Clinic; HIV
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