FACING FACTS

The men, women and children in these pictures are all HIV positive or have Aids. They speak of passion, hope, strength and love; and about the disease with which they are living and to which some of them have since succumbed. This coming Friday is World Aids Day; may the portraits and the writings on these pages serve as a testament to the human spirit

But she's going to die anyway?...

A commonly held opinion and statement when I decided to adopt this wonderful little girl. Not a very convincing argument considering we're all going to die anyway. But aren't you afraid you're going to get close to her?...

That certainly was my intention. You don't alienate a human being when you know he or she has a terminal illness. The point was to establish and prolong quality of life.

What if you "catch" it?...

Yes, I did catch it. Thank God I caught it. I caught the meaning and substance of unconditional love after 40 years of searching and it came to me through this little girl.

I have felt the sting of criticism and endured ignorance, apathy and discrimination. All in the name of being a mother. LAURA AND JIMIYA POISEL

North Liberty, Iowa

When you are diagnosed as a person

with Aids you quickly discover who

really loves you. In my case that

turned out to be friends and

my entire family, even people I

barely knew. That's a great feeling,

and combined with a natural inclination

to weed out the unessential things in

life - the things that aren't fun or

aren't important - it's made me some kind

of better person. Deeper, maybe, more

substantial.

The ironic part of all of this is

that it's hard to imagine anyone

falling in love with this new man,

trapped inside a ravaged body. Still, hope

hasn't died in my romantic heart,

though its pulse is weak.

MARK CARSON

New York City

As I look into my future

I somehow always see my past.

When I close my eyes,

it all comes rushing back.

Tears of regret, I don't cry anymore.

Somehow the child in me is trying to be heard,

but the woman I am

cries at night, when I'm all alone.

I've gotten very good at hiding

the pain inside.

So good that I don't feel the bitterness at all.

Life goes on, the sea of heartbreaks,

and Aids is just another wave

that has crashed down on me,

but still,

life goes on.

VAREE SUTHIREUNG (above)

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

We're born alone, we die alone.

I thank God for each day

she's given me

in between.

JOHN LESNICK (below)

New York City

Being HIV positive has set me free

from another disease I was already fighting,

the disease of addiction.

To be free from drugs is

truly a blessing.

I look at my virus as another chance at life.

And believe me, this is living.

LINDA JORDAN (above)

West Hartford, Connecticut

I used to be one of those people

you would cross the street to avoid,

a drug addict.

Then I found out I was HIV.

Now I'm having a great time

living life on its own terms.

I've learned how to be

responsible

to myself - first and foremost.

I eat right, get the proper rest,

and avoid such luxuries

as anger and stress.

I network with others who believe in having a

Positive Mental Attitude.

I am living with this disease,

not dying from it.

I have hope that with this simple prescription

I will be alive when a cure is found.

VINCE CONNER (below)

Brooklyn, New York, New York

Losing Life is not what hurts -

Losing your Love and your touch

And your Intimacy has made me like

A Leper -

Turning to my Lord to fill the hole in my heart and never leave me

To Die Alone.

Serving to tell others there is one

Who will never abandon us.

Overcome evil and prejudice with

Good, and lies with truth and

hatred with Love - This is what

Keeps me Living - and Loving!

RHONDA SCHULTZ (above)

Memphis, Tennessee

Having the "Virus" is a

blessing in disguise.

It is the catalyst

that has brought us

together and helps us to stay

"clean".

We all know that cleanliness

is next to Godliness

and nowhere in the

world

could you be more at

home

than next to

God.

DANNY RAMIREZ and YVETTE FONTANEZ (below)

Bronx, New York, New York

Yvette died on 20 June 1992

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