Test the System, Test Yourself
June 27, 2013
Today is National HIV Testing Day.
Across the United States of America service providers are testing people for
HIV in central locations, for free.
In thinking about testing, we at Visual AIDS think about many things. Most urgently we think about HIV Criminalization, and we remember the work of the Testing the Limits collective.
"Get The Test, Risk Arrest"
This is a common saying among young people deemed high risk for HIV, who are also at risk for jail time. The phrase speaks to the fact that across the U.S., once people know they are living with HIV, there is a huge onus on them to not only disclose their status, but also be able to prove that they disclosed if it should ever become a conversation for the courts. This is unfair. What other group of people has to account for personal conversation between consenting adults? What other group of people are made to take full responsibility for something shared?
HIV is not a crime, yet people living with HIV are being treated as if they are a threat.
So we suggest that on your way to get tested you learn more about HIV Criminalization from the Sero website. Find out what it means, how it can impact you, and what you can do about it.
"Voices from the Front"
From 1987 to 1995 a group of artists and AIDS activists came together to form the Testing the Limits collective, using video to document the early days of the AIDS crisis in the face of being ignored or incorrectly represented by the mainstream media. TTL provided a point of view of the epidemic from the front line. TTL did not shy away from difficult discussions around access to treatment, the role of sexuality and gender, and violence. Their cameras rolled as heady issues were worked out in real time.
In a day in age when many of us have cameras on our phones and are broadcasting our every move to the world, TTL provides a reminder of what can be done with technology we may be taking advantage of. How different would our understanding of HIV/AIDS in New York in the late 80s and 90s be without video artists and activists? What is going on now that we should be documenting, considering, archiving and presenting?
The Testing The Limits collective reminds us not only to test the authority ofmainstream media, but also to test ourselves to use representation, ourselves, and the tools at our disposal, to make a difference.
About the image
This article was provided by Visual AIDS.
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