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Access to Life
November 7, 2012
by Magnum Photographers
A powerful photographic exhibition Access to life, which has moved millions of people around the world through its touching images of AIDS-affected communities, will open at the Powerhouse Museum on 27 November for World AIDS Day 2012 (1 December). It follows nine Magnum photographers as they capture the human face of HIV and AIDS in ten developing countries, including new images from Papua New Guinea.

Access to life, developed by the world-leading photographic agency, Magnum Photos, in partnership with The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, co-incides with 30 years since the first reported case of HIV in Australia.

It shows over 250 photographs by some of the world’s best photographers from global agency Magnum Photos, renowned for interpreting and chronicling people and personalities, global issues and events, in a compassionate and meaningful way. The images tell the poignant stories of people living with HIV after receiving life-saving antiretroviral treatment.

Bill Bowtell, Executive Director, Pacific Friends of the Global Fund, said: ”A decade ago, no-one in Africa had access to the antiretroviral medicine. Today, there are more than 8 million people living with HIV in low and middle income countries who are receiving the antiretroviral therapy.

“AIDS however remains a global humanitarian concern to get life-saving treatment to millions of people still suffering from HIV, particularly in those countries where access to basic health care is limited.”

Dr Dawn Casey, Director, Powerhouse Museum said: “Australians will be moved by, and empathise with, the personal stories told by the people photographed, in their own words. The exhibition is both a timely reminder that HIV is still here, and a testament to the medical and foreign aid achievements in managing the epidemic over the past three decades.”

The new series of images from Papua New Guinea – Australia’s closest neighbour and the country facing the largest HIV epidemic in the Asia-Pacific - will be shown for the first time. Taken by acclaimed British photographer Chris Steele-Perkins in August this year, the Papua New Guinea series joins photographic case studies from India, Vietnam, Russia, Swaziland, Haiti, Mali, South Africa, Peru and Rwanda.

“The situation in PNG is desperate and is a priority for the Pacific Friends of the Global Fund. We are however at a tipping point to gaining control of HIV globally. The good news is that there are now more people on the life-saving treatment, than waiting to be treated, and we are on track to reaching the goal of treating 15 million people with the virus by 2015*,” said Bill Bowtell.

With more than 800 indigenous languages, basic infrastructure and limited health services, Papua New Guinea is a challenging country to treat and manage HIV. Stories revealed by husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, grandparents and siblings, infected by HIV, tell their personal experiences as they face fear, denial and ostracism. The photos portray people in daily life, whilst living with HIV and undergoing treatment.

When HIV was first diagnosed in Australia in October 1982, little was known about the virus and how it spread. While the disease quickly took hold of sectors in the community most at risk - namely gay men, sex workers and people who inject drugs - Australia responded with its most successful public health campaign that is revered world wide.

The Australian response and approach to HIV and AIDS will be told by the Powerhouse Museum in a small display, HIV & AIDS 30 years on: the Australian story, to accompany Access to life.

Powerhouse Museum curator, Anni Turnbull said: “From the shock tactics of the infamous Grim Reaper advertisements to the positive and witty Condoman campaign, HIV & AIDS 30 years on traces the story of HIV in Australia from crisis to hope and beyond.”

The Access to Life exhibition was launched in Washington DC in 2008 and has since toured major cities around the world including Rome, Madrid, Olso, Oakland, New York, Tokyo and Seoul. It is showing at Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum until 9 June 2013 and will travel to Monash Gallery of Art in July 2013.

Related Links:
Powerhouse Museum
Access To Life Website
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