How the project started, and how the ideas have progressed.
For many years Brighton and Hove libraries have recognised the impact of HIV on the city and have featured book collections, readings, exhibitions and art installations around World AIDS Day to help commemorate the event.
Last year was the 10th anniversary of the Brighton and Hove AIDS memorial statue, “TAY”, and the library commissioned a film to tell the public about the history of the memorial.
In January 2020, two library staff members got together with artists and activists to plan for the 2020 World AIDS Day event.
There are six of us in total, five of whom are living with HIV. You can read more about us in our About Us page on this site.
Stigma is a very negative word, and much has been written about it.
We recognised that HIV related stigma was still an issue for people living with HIV, and those who do not know their status. Stigma can lead to people shrinking back from leading normal lives, and it can delay people getting tested for HIV, when early testing leads to better health management.
It was decided that we would try to tackle HIV related stigma in a different way, by barely mentioning it, and instead focus on the positive steps people have made since their HIV diagnosis. It was decided to champion the dreams and activities of people living with HIV, and not to dwell on negative stereotypes.
We decided to call the group, “More to me than HIV” to show that we are people first and foremost, and more than just patients.
In January we discussed having a mosaic of portraits and images. The design of the mosaic would be that of the Red Ribbon for World AIDS Day, but the top loop of the ribbon would be a double arch, forming a heart made from a red ribbon.
We realised that we would need many images to make a decent mosaic image.
And then Coronavirus arrived.
The project would not be able to advertise in a community setting, in clinics and at charities and community groups. We realised that we would probably not get enough portraits to make a mosaic, and so our plans had to change.
We decided to scale down our ambitions and hold a small exhibition at the Jubilee library, and on our website. We moved our project online, with our own website and using, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
The domain name for our website is www.moretomthanHIV.life, (the .life suffix was chosen to be life affirming).
Now we have entered November 2020, and we have been told we can not have a physical exhibition in the library, due to Coronavirus protection measures.
So, we have decided to still hold an online exhibition, which will take the form of an animated slideshow. We now plan to continue the project until at least Dec 1st 2021, with the ambition of holding a physical exhibition for next years World AIDS Day.
David has been working for organisations supporting people living with HIV since 1994. In 2019 David produced a film about the 10th anniversary of TAY, Brightons’ AIDS memorial. In 2020 he produced the Brighton and Hove World AIDS Day Digital Vigil.
Meet the people behind More to me than HIV (In alphabetical order)
Frances has been writing the ongoing series of posts on the changing representation of HIV and AIDS in film and television, which you can read on our Facebook Page.
Glenn works for Brighton Libraries and is a published author, (gothic horror his forte) written articles for Positive Nation, as well as a regular column in GScene. Glenn hosted last years World AIDS Day event at Jubilee Library. He was diagnosed HIV+ in March 1988.
Ian is an artist who has managed many exhibitions both in Brighton and France. Ian is also a Treasurer for Peer Action, a charity supporting people living with HIV in Brighton.
Jason is a mixed media artist, and also runs Positive Walks, a health walk community group for people living with HIV.
Malcolm is a professional photographer, (now retired) and his work has featured in previous World AIDS Day events in Brighton
We are grateful to the following organisations for supporting this project.
And here are links to our social media presence