Alabama, The United States of America
Alabama, a largely rural state, is in poor shape — literally. Its population of about 4,900,000, 68.4% white and 26.5% black, has a poverty rate of 17% (sixth highest in the US, and far above the national rate).
With poverty and racism it has huge health problems. All important STDs are highest among blacks and Hispanics.
14,653 persons were known to have HIV in 2018, 657 newly diagnosed — 13.4 per 100,000, but 36.7 per 100,000 for blacks. These are undercounts. Alabama provided medication for only 1,156 of them. Within the black community 51% of newly Hiv infections occur among men who have sex with men (MSM). Stigma against LGBTQ persons generally is high. Many of these individuals do not identify themselves as gay or bisexual.Young black males 15 to 29 years old have been identified as a high-risk group. Black females are approximately 9 times more likely to become infected with HIV than white females. The state began a social media campaign to raise HIV awareness and lower stigma which appears to have died in 2017. Public education in Alabama is poor.
Cheerful, up and bursting with energy … Marco is an “influencer” and is doing everything to change the modern world for the better. Recently, his mission has been to reduce stigma around HIV and AIDS and gays in Alabama. He actively participates in photo shoots and other public manifestations.
Marco, born in Alabama, lived in New York for a while, but it was just a tad too rough for him, so now he’s back where he was born. We arrange to meet him in his apartment in a neighborhood with a fence around it … when we arrive with our camera, the first obstacle is a furious security guard who blocks our way. Marco seems to be used to it and solves it in a controlled and correct way … Influencing the world.
Influencing the world
Photo’s by Vincent van den Hoogen