This year marks 40 years since the first reported cases of what we now know as AIDS. In my documentary project, I capture the dynamic lives of individuals living with HIV, smashing stereotypes as they actively engage in society and their communities. These resilient souls, advocates for HIV awareness, education, and prevention, shatter the stigma around HIV. As they age gracefully, they champion the potent U = U slogan—Undetectable = Untransmittable—emphasizing that effective HIV treatment drastically reduces the risk of transmission to sexual partners. I commenced this documentary portraiture project in 2019and it provides a bold platform for individuals with HIV to share their stories, aiming to obliterate prevailing stigma and discrimination. The core mission is to enlighten those unfamiliar with HIV, fostering a more compassionate and enlightened societal perspective. Through my lens, I’m on a mission to inject empathy and understanding into the narrative surrounding HIV in our society.
The main focus is a collection of portraits of people who have come to Ireland to study English. Many are highly educated, with a third-level degree and a Master’s education. Many arrive from Central and South America, while others are from Asia and Eastern Europe.
During their studies, they face many obstacles and challenges to adapt to living in Irish society. Many of these students work jobs that many Irish people refuse to work in. My motivation for starting this project is that I’ve seen first hand on a professional and a personal level, how difficult it has become for these people. But, I also see how many of these people have come to Ireland to try and improve their lives for themselves and their families.
My project involves portraits of frontline medical workers in the environment of the hospital and in adhoc medical centres in and around Dublin city. SafetyNet Primary Care is a medical charity that delivers quality care to those marginalised in society without access to healthcare, including homeless people, drug users and migrants. Throughout this pandemic these individuals give their best to deliver high quality healthcare services for homeless people and others who are socially excluded. I also work as a medical professional and have been on the frontline during the Covid 19 pandemic. These portraits were created on different sites where people were being medically assessed and swabbed for suspected COVID-19 infection.
Copii din Bucuresti
I travelled to Bucharest, Romania, in 1992 for three months to volunteer with children living with HIV. Approximately 80% were abandoned in state hospitals by their families. After my three months work stint was up, I returned home to Ireland and raised funds to go back and continue my work with these children. I ended up staying ten years working and caring for these children. I would always try to document moments of each of these children’s lives. Two of the children’s mothers allowed me to make their portraits with their children. I have never published the portrait images I made of these exceptional children.
Some of these children in this documentary are no longer with us and some I keep in touch with over the years.
In the early 90’s I travelled to Bucharest Romania for 3 months to work as a volunteer with children who were all living with HIV and 80% were abandoned after two days in the city I was informed about young children living in sewers and the streets so I decided to a document what their lives.