Socialist Worker

Nick Danziger: documenting lives shaped by Aids

Nick Danziger was sent by international development agency World Vision to document the lives of children affected by HIV and Aids. His photographs were exhibited at the International Aids Conference in Toronto, Canada, last week. He spoke to Socialist

Issue No. 2015

In this Russian drop-in centre HIV positive mothers share their stories. The woman with her baby (background) was abandoned by the nurses in the maternity hospital when she went into labour and was only helped through her delivery by two other HIV positiv

In this Russian drop-in centre HIV positive mothers share their stories. The woman with her baby (background) was abandoned by the nurses in the maternity hospital when she went into labour and was only helped through her delivery by two other HIV positiv


‘The exhibition looks at how children are affected by the virus. Not all the children were HIV positive themselves. You can have parents who die of the virus and obviously that has a huge impact on the children.

One of the things that you hear about now is grandparents looking after children because of this missing generation, and that certainly is the case. You see a lot more people dying now than when I started photographing people with HIV and Aids.

There is a picture from India in the exhibition of Rupa who is 17 years old.

For the last two years she has not only been looking after a younger brother and sister - earning money to send them to school - but she has also been looking after her grandmother.

In Russia, maternity wards are still segregated for HIV positive women. If you work for the government, you have to have a blood test.

The blood testing department are obviously keeping a database of people who are HIV positive. I met one woman who was HIV positive who told me about the stigma from medical staff. Another woman talked to me about a doctor taking money from her and then leaving her to give birth on the floor without any medical staff.

The biggest problem today remains the secrecy, the denial and the stigma. Medication is not going to solve all of the problems.

There are some images in the exhibition of a woman who has since died.

Her husband came to look after the two children. The husband is also HIV positive. He can get antiretroviral medication, but he can’t take it because he doesn’t have regular meals.

There is what I call a psycho-social element to this. If you have to live with this terrible secrecy, psychologically it is not good for you.

The people that I have seen doing the best are those who eat healthily, who are secure in the knowledge that the virus is not going to be an immediate killer. This has an impact on the welfare of individuals.

People need access to information - but the right information. We have seen some politicians - for example South African president Thabo Mbeki - who have for a long time denied the effects and causes of HIV.

I don’t think that enough is being done. The reason that I was so keen to do this project is that children are the forgotten victims.

They are heroes too, but they are victims. To those who say let’s help the children, I would say one thing that you can do for the children is to keep their parents alive.’


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