“What we all have in common is that we are all living with HIV/AIDS, but we are human beings in the flesh, just like everyone else. We don’t want a three or even four letter medical acronym to define every aspect of our lives.”
Around 4,300 people are in hiding in the country today, taking their medicine every night to keep from dying, and happy if at least their families don’t ostracise them. Ordinary people – the RetroShield Association (Retropajzs Egyesület) is fighting to make their lives ordinary. Together with artist Lilla Szász, they have developed an action plan that highlights some of the problems that people living with HIV have to deal with every day. The problems are based on the themes of important holidays such as Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and World AIDS Day.
Positive Christmas aims to highlight the sometimes complete invisibility and loneliness of people living with HIV in Hungary. A stigma that entrenches the loneliness of many of them, a stigma from which very few can escape. This stigma is about them, but in Hungary today, virtually everyone who deviates from the ‘norm’ is stigmatised.
More information: https://www.facebook.com/retropajzsegyesulet
Free Bird presents a subjective interpretation of a life with HIV that contradicts all stereotypes. The photos, video and the podcast follow a crucial moment in Martha’s life; Martha is having a Free Bird tattoo made on her ring finger, celebrating and engaging herself to freedom.
Podcast, video, photo: Szász Lilla
Voice, idea: Márta
Tattoo and graphic design: Szurcsik Erika
Editing: Hutanu Emil
Listen to the podcast here: https://soundcloud.com/user-917432027/marti-szabad-madar-vegleges?utm_source=clipboard&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=social_sharing
I find this positive: my child will be negative!
For around ten years, a poster campaign has been running in the German capital to dispel misconceptions about HIV and infected people in the street. It was one message among many: “I find this positive: my child will be negative!” – was simply how they described a revolutionary step that would allow infected people to ‘lock up’ the virus in themselves with the help of the drug, and not pass the disease on to others, sexually or otherwise. This is how an HIV-infected mother can have a healthy baby.
In today’s Hungary, no specialist has a ready-made protocol for what happens if a woman living with HIV who is taking medication becomes pregnant and has a baby.
As part of the Mothers’ Day campaign, mothers living with HIV are sharing their experiences with us. The result of the campaign is a series of photos and interviews where mothers talk about the challenges they face with pregnancy, breastfeeding and childcare.
Martha has been living with HIV for more than 20 years. Her husband infected her. The couple have never had a harmonious relationship. He often left her alone with the children. After the change of regime, she left the family and went to Western Europe for long periods. No one knew exactly where he went. Shortly after his return home, however, the couple were reunited, and 9 years later, after a long hospital stay, he was diagnosed with AIDS. Martha was also infected. After the initial shock, Márta decided not to abandon her husband and cared for him until the last moment.
After her husband’s death, Márta started working as an activist in a then well-established association, and after its dissolution she continued her work as a private person. She is one of the founding members and patient activist of the “Retro Shield Association for People Living with HIV”, which was founded in 2020.
Projection of Positive and roundtable talk on the occasion of World Aids Day.