I have finished my final class of the semester– Picture Story & Photographic Essay– and turned in my final project.
After my initial story idea for the semester fell through, I decided that I wanted to tell the story of how the recession and state budget cuts are affecting people living with HIV/AIDS. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find willing photo subjects until the last two weeks of the semester. Luckily, Mark and David were willing to let me into their lives for a couple of weeks and for that, I am very grateful. Although I was in a bit of a time crunch, I hope that I was able to at least get a start on telling their story. It is a story that I hope I can continue telling up until I leave for Australia at the end of June.
I also hope that this will be an ongoing project involving other people experiencing the same problems Mark and David are. I see this initial edit as the first chapter in a longer story…
So, without further adieu, here is the story summary:
“David Hubert and Mark Reed have been living with HIV/AIDS in St. Louis for over twenty years and have been partners for just as long. Diagnosed with AIDS in the 80’s– a time when the life expectancy for AIDS victims was about two years– David is now one of the longest living AIDS survivors in St. Louis.
With the price of co-pays for HIV medication reaching upwards of $8,500 per year, per person, Mark and David have been forced to the edge of poverty, living each month paycheck to paycheck. “We basically start off each month in the hole,” says David.
Although they once received aid from the Ryan White Foundation– the payer of last resort for HIV/AIDS victims– the recession in the United States has caused an increase in the amount of people requesting help and has subsequently caused a cut in funding for Mark and David’s medication. Facing these economic hardships and unable to work because of the disease, Mark and David have found ways to live a life of thrift while still trying to maintain a semi-comfortable lifestyle living off disability payments.”