All images courtesy of David Krut Projects, New York © The Bambanani Womens Group, Cape Town
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People living with HIV/AIDS

In 2003, a group of women living  with HIV/AIDS receiving antiretroviral treatment from MSF in Cape Town,  South Africa, participated in a body mapping workshop led by South African artist Jane Solomon. A unique form of art and memory therapy, body mapping is a deeply personal form of storytelling. To create the Body Maps, participants filled a life-sized outline of their bodies with handprints, footprints, symbols of hope and emotive text. The Body Maps empowered the participants to sustain courage and hope, and provided a means for each individual to share their personal experiences. 

These Body Maps were published in a collaborative book titled Long Life — Positive HIV Stories. Here are three Body Maps by Ntombizodwa, Nomawethu and Ncedeka, with interview excerpts from the book.

Ntombizodwa

“I have written ‘always be prepared’ on my body map. … It means you must be prepared for everything either bad or good. If you get bad, you must be prepared for it how to solve this problem, even HIV. The time I was diagnosed, I was worried I was going to die of HIV. …"

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“Look here where I have painted the virus.  On 19 January 2001 I became very sick. Stomach pains and headache. It was summer time, the season of peach and apricot, and I thought that’s why I had a sore stomach."

“I went to the doctor who was telling me I am having ulcers, and he gave me the medicine but I didn’t get better. …I decided to go to the Mapongwane Hospital. I asked for a blood test and they diagnosed me HIV positive. Many of our stories are the same.”

Nomawethu

“I wrote Mount Fletcher on my painting because I want to tell the people I come from there. I’m proud of my province. …"

“That scar on the foot, I think I was 8 years. I was playing with the tennis ball in front of the shack and there is a zinc there in the door. …  As soon as I start to play the zinc in our door  cut me on my foot. …"

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“When I was small I played in the back yard and not the street. I was a brilliant child and I had a good time. My parents protected me. I thank my parents. I’m a good parent now to my two children, one 7 years and one 12 months. I have not told my 7-year-old about my HIV status. I will tell her one day. It is just too difficult.”

Ncedeka

“When I see this picture I feel much happier just because when I look at it, I see what I can’t see when I look at myself in the mirror. My picture  is like an X-ray."

“At the top of my painting it says, ‘I’m still hurt about my child’s death who passed away in 1999 when she was one year four months old.’ Did I already tell you that because I never knew my status, I passed mother to child transmission to her from breast milk or just by birth? …"

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“She died on April 1999. It was only at Coronation Hospital in Johannesburg where they tested her and she was found positive. And me too."

“I felt so badly I even cried. … I felt worse because I had breastfed her because I was ignorant about my status. And no one had helped me to find out, even though I had asked for help.”

All images courtesy of David Krut Projects, New York © The Bambanani Womens Group, Cape Town