Teenagers’ Photos, Words ‘Break the Silence’ of AIDS in Alameda County, Calif.
The writings and "insider" photographs of a group of teenagers in Alameda County, Calif., are being recognized by the county health department as a way to "break the silence" on the AIDS epidemic in the community, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Despite "heavy" public health campaigns, Alameda County's AIDS rate continues to disproportionately affect the African-American and Latino communities, as African Americans represent 15% of the county's population but account for 57% of its approximately 6,000 AIDS cases since 1980. Trying to find a "homegrown way to bring AIDS out of the shadows," Sandy Close, editor of Pacific News Service, a San Francisco-based newswire that publishes teens' writings, pulled together the group of 15 young artists, self-named the Town Criers. The group uses $20 Holga plastic cameras to capture "street-level" images "under bridges, in living rooms and at the doctor's office," and each artist writes captions to explain the photos. The photos themselves "aren't supposed to be works of art," Close said, adding, "The art comes from the combination of what the young people write and observe and their willingness to speak openly about how AIDS is a part of their daily lives." County AIDS epidemiologist Maria Hernandez is arranging for the photographs and writings of the Town Criers to be displayed at the county public health department. Close also may turn the Town Criers' work into a video that could be shown at local community centers and churches, the Chronicle reports (May, San Francisco Chronicle, 11/25).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.