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Three words, and three pictures to show that there’s…

More to me than HIV

To raise awareness of World AIDS Day 2020, people living with HIV took part in an online slideshow to publicly combat stigma, and show how they are thriving, and celebrate the fact that they can say that;

 “There is more to me than HIV”


stigma | ˈstɪɡmə |


A mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person

Combatting Stigma

With the COVID-19 pandemic, parallels have been drawn between our current situation, and the emergence of HIV in the 1980’s. Fear, misinformation, blame seeking, judgement and stigma have played a part early in both epidemics.

Whilst we now have vaccines for for COVID-19, there is still no cure for HIV, some thirty years after it emerged. 

However, unlike people who acquire COVID, stigma is still experienced by many people living with HIV, and can have serious negative effects on a persons wellbeing. Stigma can lead to people not getting tested, which excludes them from the life saving treatment that people with HIV can now expect.

The good news now for HIV is that it is treatable, though not curable. With early detection and effective treatment, living with HIV is no longer a death sentence.

This project hopes to show that people living with HIV are not just surviving, but thriving. Many people are overcoming the stigma associated with HIV, and are all the better for it. HIV doesn’t discriminate who it infects. There is nothing disgraceful about having a virus.

This project simply states;

There’s more to me than HIV

UK Government Campaign

ITV News

Daily Mail

How to take part?

Simply send us

- Three pictures and three words

We would like you to submit one portrait of yourself, and two other images which shows how you define yourself.

We would also like you to submit three words that you would use to define yourself. For example; Parent, Funny, Musician, Baker, Cyclist, Swimmer, Graduate. 

Any words you like, to show how you are enjoying life.

There is so much inspiration to choose two images which identify and describe your passions and interests.. 

Here are just a few ideas, to help inspire you;

Why not choose your hobbies, interests or pastimes?

Have you started a new life, perhaps having come from overseas?

Do you have a vocation, or are proud of your career?

Maybe you do voluntary service.

Perhaps you have done well academically.

Do you have pets, or have a favourite animal?

Are you a keen sports fan, devoted to a team? 

Perhaps fashion and beauty are how you express yourself.

Is there a performer you have followed that inspires you?

Are you a keen nature lover, or are you more into city life?

We need your permission to use your images.

A photograph consent form is available at this link, which also details your levels of consent and how we process your images, and your rights to reassure and removal of your data if you change your mind.

The choice is yours. 

We are looking forward to seeing the diversity, that makes up the population of people living with HIV. Your images will help normalise people living with HIV, and perhaps encourage others to break free from HIV related stigma.

Questions and answers

I’d like to take part, but I’m uneasy, as I’m not out about my status?

We recognise that choosing when, and who, to disclose your HIV positive status to can be difficult, as we have been there ourselves. 

You may want to choose this project as a part of your disclosure strategy, to show others how diverse we are. Being pictured with others may be of comfort to you, as you are not alone. 

If you would like to speak to an HIV positive Peer Support Volunteer, the the Sussex Beacon offers a one to one bespoke service to help stand with you on your journey.

What happens after I send you my three words and three pictures?

We put them together and show you how they would look, for you to approve.

All of the photos submitted will be in the online exhibition. We will choose selected entries to enlarge and print, for the exhibition in the library. 

We need your consent to use your images, and we need to know if we can use them on our website, social media and videos. Simply download the form, complete it, and email it back to us at

A word document permission form is available at this link.

A .pdf permission form is available at this link.

If your entry is chosen for the exhibition in the library, we would like to contact you, and ask you to send us a few paragraphs to explain how you are thriving, living with HIV. It is hoped that your story will inspire other people living with HIV. Your words will go alongside your images at the exhibition.

Who is behind More to me than HIV?

We are a small group of artists and activists. See our biographies at this link

We are all either living with, or affected, by HIV. 

Collectively our experience of living with HIV exceeds 100 years.

How do I submit photos?

Send us your photos by email. Please submit your entries to

Can I be assured of confidentiality?

Yes. We live with, or are affected by, HIV ourselves, and recognise the importance of confidentiality.

For example, when you subscribe to our email list, you don’t have to give your name, (we only ask so that we may politely address you).

How safe is my email address if I subscribe to your mailing list?

Your email address is stored safely. Our emailing list is managed by MailChimp, a company in the U.S.A. that meets European GDPR compliance standards.

More info at this link.

What happens to the images once I send them?

We will store them digitally in a secure place. After approval, and minor edits, (like cropping), we will post them on this website. We will choose selected images for printing, for the public gallery exhibition at the library in 2021. We would like to contact you, if your entry is chosen, and ask you to send us a few paragraphs to further explain how you are thriving, living with HIV. It is hoped that your story will inspire other people living with HIV. Your words will go alongside your images at the exhibition. 

How do you approve images?

We reserve the right not to use images that break any UK law, contain any hateful or obscene content, or are too small to represent on our platform without distorting the image.

What If I don’t want to be identified?

We will not attach any name to the portraits for the project.

You may choose not to show your whole face in the portraits, however, we would like to encourage you to combat stigma, by being visible.

How did this project get its name.

We were having a discussion about how to represent the fact that, after having HIV for many years, now that 97% of people in the UK are virally suppressed, we can concentrate less on being a patient, and more about living a normal life. One of us said “there’s more to me than HIV”. We thought the phrase had a catchy rhythm to it and hence that is why the project has its name. The “.life” suffix for the website was chosen to be a positive affirmation that we have lives that are worth living.

I have a different question

Please email us

Supported by Brighton and Hove Library

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