AIDS in Culture 2012

The growing resurgence in ACT UP, this summer's International AIDS conference, and the growing conversation around HIV Criminalization made 2012 a watershed year for HIV re-emerging in the American public’s consciousness. Over a few blog posts Visual AIDS will look back at pivotal moments of AIDS in culture 2012. Email us what you think at

AIDS is personal.

This is what people had to offer when asked to think about AIDS in Culture 2012.

Corporate logos, the big Walmart strike this year, and everything big business makes me think of AIDS, of how increasingly specific our culture is marketing us, branding us, and dehumanizing as fodder for ecological, economic, and psychic torture.

-artist Ethan Shoshan

For me it was the multitude of ways in which the response [to HIV/AIDS] is regressing, we are losing ground fast in Canada and our response is not organized in a way to ensure it is responsive or coordinated (increasing criminalization, loss of funding, intentional government inaction, institutionalized silencing of dissent etc...)

I have been inspired by the new ways that people are working to counter this though, there are community discussions again, dialogue, interest in activism, a resurgence and re-imagining of old school activism. This is exciting and has kept me going.

-Alex McClelland, from AIDS ACTION NOW

Ongoing conversations with a friendly Dreamboat whose been living with HIV/AIDS for more than a decade and is hyper active sexually and very sought after.

-Sur Rodney (Sur)

For me really it was the stark clash between the message of UNITED IN ANGER: A HISTORY OF ACT UP that the AIDS crisis was transformed by a broad coalition of activists of all genders, races, classes and relationships to HIV working simultaneously to force social change- and the opposing message of HOW TO SURVIVE A PLAGUE which focused on a handful of white individuals. Although it is not surprising that the story of the "white people who saved the world" attracted the money and institutional praise, I see this as the moment that a profoundly false story of ACT UP and the larger question of how change gets made, has been institutionalized, branded and marketed as one of white heroism and the decontextualized individual. This is not the first time and it won't be the last that supremacy ideology masquerades as reality. But, as a front row witness, it is really disappointing. To say the least.

-Sarah Schulman