Story of a Girl: Making AIDS personal

Women are defined by more than their status. Photo credit: Story of a Girl

This is the first in a series of video posts from Story of a Girl

So let me ask a blunt question: which one is more relatable to most people – living with AIDS or telling a bad joke at a party? Have we completely forgotten that people living with HIV, for instance, can tell bad jokes – or more broadly, have lives outside of their disease?

We must stop defining people with HIV by their status.

Last year, working with multiple organizations in eight global regions, we set out to test this idea. And now, having traveled around the globe and spoken to thousands of women living with HIV, we can tell you that no one has yet to say that HIV defines who they are. No one smiles at the idea of discussing their disease, even if it’s a success story. But most beam when asked about their husband, their children, or their family.

So we decided to give out cameras to anyone who would take them, and the Story of a Girl Project began.

We hope to use storytelling to change the current narrative; to explore HIV in the broader context of life, not through the narrow prism of disease. The project consists of both self-submitted stories (using “self-filming kits” we have distributed all around the world), as well as a mini-series of professional short films that show the life of a girl from her birth to adulthood. This way we are able to show both the immediate and temporal impact that programs such as The Global Fund can have on the epidemic over generations.

Watch our trailer video to see how Story of a Girl is looking at the AIDS epidemic not as numbers, but a collection of individuals: 

After a year of sharing stories, I am certain I know more about the epidemic than any amount of data could ever tell me. Stay tuned to ONE.org for the next video in the Story of a Girl series.

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