This is the short story of three women : Sylvia, Promise and Sipathi. It is a story of ambivalence and denial on a national scale in the wake of a crippling AIDS epidemic. All three women live in Tembisa township and all three found out they were HIV-positive during their pregnancy.
These pictures represent only half of the story. These three women and their families, were ready to share more. Promise wanted the birth of her daughter to be documented; Sipathi was dying when I met her, but her family wanted me to capture her son’s last visit, her last moments at home. I also wanted to show the neglect she suffered in the public hospital: lying for hours in her own vomit, not being washed. All official permissions were refused, despite the support of the Ethical committee in Pretoria.
This was Mbeki’s era, this was Manto Tshabalala-Msimang’s era, an era where despite Sipathi’s and Badalo’s deaths, I was told HIV did not exist.