During my time working as a photographer in sub-Saharan Africa, a recurring theme has been the documentation of HIV/AIDS. Initially much of this work told the stories of the virus’ devastation in communities and it’s effects on their societies. Many of these stories told of the challenges of accepting one’s HIV-positive status and the implications of denial.
In Lusaka, the capital of Zambia, the Chelstone Clinic provides vital programmes to treat HIV-positive pregnant women and to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT). HIV-positive infants diagnosed and treated within the first 12 weeks of life are 75% less likely to die. However, many infants do not receive PMTCT services because their caretakers lack access to properly equipped facilities or fear the stigma associated with HIV. For PMTCT measures to be effective, infants must adhere to a long-term, structured course of tests and services, difficult for many caretakers. This essay tells the story of Tasila Lungu and her son, Felix, through the first 18 months of his life until his HIV status is confirmed.
Poor access to safe water supply and sanitation in Zambia’s rural areas is a major contributing factor to poverty. The relatively high incidence of water and sanitation related diseases, particularly diarrhoea, results in high health costs to individuals and communities.
Towards an AIDS-FREE Generation is a long-term project based on a narrative framework using photographic and audio documentation, focusing on paediatric HIV/AIDS, documenting the lives of several women as they participate in a programme preventing their unborn babies becoming infected with HIV in rural and urban Zambia.
￼In 2009, UNICEF commissioned South African photographer Christine Nesbitt to document Zambia’s services to eliminate new HIV infections in infants, as experienced by several women living with HIV and their children. From 2009-2011, Christine followed these women from pregnancy through the first 18 months of their babies’ lives, including their participation in UNICEF-supported prevention of mother-to-child transmission programmes.