The following post was written by Marie-France Roche, student intern at Art for AIDS International.


“When I first arrived in beautiful Zimbabwe, it was difficult to understand that 35 percent of the population is HIV positive. It really wasn’t until I was invited to the homes of people that I started to understand the human toll of the epidemic.”-Kristen Ashburn

In this inspiring TED talk, Kristen Ashburn, a talented documentary photographer, shares her experiences of her visit to Zimbabwe. Ashburn met and photographed several people affected by the HIV and AIDS, many of whom had little hope of survival. Her most devastating photographs depict young people affected by AIDS. One boy, named Herbert, is pictured with his grandmother, so frail that he is hardly able to hold himself up. Herbert lost both his parents to AIDS, and eventually lost his own life to the disease. Ashburn’s photographs capture the too-often traumatizing reality of AIDS in the most heavily affected region of the world.

At Art for AIDS International, students participating in workshops translate their insights into the production of unique collage artwork. Although these pieces do not always directly reflect the effects of the AIDS epidemic, they inspire students to engage in the cause by responding to what they’ve learned in the workshop. Ashburn’s work brings individuals closer with those facing adversity. Our workshops do not only create awareness about the prominence of  AIDS in Africa, but also bring the students closer to the cause through participatory involvement in producing this artwork.

Art can serve as a powerful medium to depict the effects of AIDS, and to engage young people in an important cause. At Art for AIDS International, our work is directly connected to passionate individuals who are involved in AIDS prevention and awareness, and can act as an agent of change by connecting people around the world to the organization.

You can see more of Ashburn’s work here.