A Very Emotional Letter

Today I received this very touching letter from a friend/photographer from Brussels and he wanted me to share this with all of you. We hope that it will inspire you to be safe(r) from now on – HIV is closer than you think and until there’s a cure… Well, you know the story, or at least you should!

Dear Ninette,

I’m J., a 34 year old guy from Brussels. Years ago I worked briefly with you on a photoshoot for DAA with Evisu Jeans for the project Designers Do Denim! I have been following (from a distance to be honest) your work for several years now.  I wanted to tell you this because I think it’s important and I feel it’s necessary.

A couple of months ago I started dating this boy. About a month after our first date (and several dates later) we discovered he is HIV+. We have been “safe” from the first sexual contact but nevertheless fear overpowered me. Fear of being infected myself, fear of not being able to cope with the situation, fear of losing him… On the other side this situation has opened up my eyes. It made me realise that a lot of people in my close circle (myself included) don’t really have a clue what being infected means and how it impacts your life. HIV has always been something we heard of (and even grew up with) but it never touched anyone close to me! 

If you realise that I’ve been in the Brussels gay scene for over 15 years and you look at the statistics this is very strange/not realistic (or maybe my friends and I are very fortunate). The fact/fear that a lot of people don’t know themselves that they are infected is alarming! It is only now that I truly understand that prevention and education about HIV/AIDS still are SO DAMN IMPORTANT.  Also making clear that there still is NO CURE for AIDS and that it’s not just some chronic disease you live with – and that the best cure is still PREVENTION and AWARENESS.

I know this is maybe a little unconventional but I want to help! DAA is an organisation close to my own world as a photographer and that’s why I write to you. If you ever need my services, please don’t hesitate to contact me so we can work things out. I’m very aware that this letter is a little emotional and ‘out of the blue’ but for me it is important to send it to you. Even if it is only to tell you that I have a tremendous respect for your achievements and your will to FIGHT and EDUCATE more and more and more!

Sincerely, J

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