News / Africa

Body Mapping Helps Kenyans Living with HIV/AIDS

A man living with HIV paints his body map in Kisumu, Kenya, July 6, 2011. (Photo: VOA/X. Verhoest)
A man living with HIV paints his body map in Kisumu, Kenya, July 6, 2011. (Photo: VOA/X. Verhoest)
Jill Craig
NAIROBI – One of the biggest challenges for people living with HIV is the daily stigma and discrimination they face from society. Since 2005, a Belgian visual artist has been using a form of art therapy to help HIV-positive Kenyans deal with this stress.

Gideon, 40, is a Kenyan living with HIV. He learned his status in 2005, when he was hospitalized for another ailment.

Gideon says that when his family learned his status, some wanted him to leave Nairobi and go back to his hometown, Kisii, to save them the expense of transporting his casket later.

A body map created by Kenyan living with HIV in Kisumu, Kenya, July 8, 2011. (Photo: VOA/X.Verhoest)A body map created by Kenyan living with HIV in Kisumu, Kenya, July 8, 2011. (Photo: VOA/X.Verhoest)
x
A body map created by Kenyan living with HIV in Kisumu, Kenya, July 8, 2011. (Photo: VOA/X.Verhoest)
A body map created by Kenyan living with HIV in Kisumu, Kenya, July 8, 2011. (Photo: VOA/X.Verhoest)
"They were encouraging me to move up, to up-country, to wait for my big day," he explained.  "But I was not able to go. I told them, 'let me die here, that's where people know me.'"

This sort of reaction is common in Kenya, once a person with HIV has disclosed his or her status explains Xavier Verhoest, a visual artist who helps through a form of art therapy called body mapping.The program is completed in five days. 

Verhoest and his counseling team create a safe space for participants by providing them a non-judgmental environment and counseling services.

The participants first have a partner draw an outline of their bodies on a large canvas. Throughout the seminar, Verhoest asks them questions about their lives, including childhood, family, stress, and support systems. Participants respond by drawing on the canvas.

"We live as well in a place where there's not much space for expression," said
Verhoest.  "There's a huge culture of silence here in Kenya, but when you talk about stigmatization all over the world, it's something very, very common. When you talk to people living with HIV, they're not going to come out that easily. So the fact that we create a space where people feel very confident in expressing important issues in their lives help people to accept as well some of the issues they've been dealing with."

A woman living with HIV sketches her body map in Kisumu, Kenya, July 7, 2011. (X. Verhoest/VOA)A woman living with HIV sketches her body map in Kisumu, Kenya, July 7, 2011. (X. Verhoest/VOA)
x
A woman living with HIV sketches her body map in Kisumu, Kenya, July 7, 2011. (X. Verhoest/VOA)
A woman living with HIV sketches her body map in Kisumu, Kenya, July 7, 2011. (X. Verhoest/VOA)
Mary, 27, is a former commercial sex worker. Although she is not HIV-positive, it is constantly on her mind.

"A lot of times. When you see a sign board of HIV, you just feel, whew. Maybe I'm one of them. Just like that," she said.

Mary went through the body mapping program in 2010.  Like those living with HIV, she says that she faces constant discrimination.

"We used to use colors, so in my body mapping, I used red color a lot, and black color. Because, when I was using [a] red color, I was showing them the things that make me feel bad," she explained.  "Black is darkness. You're always in the darkness. The society doesn't see you like a human being, since you are a sex worker. Those discrimination, abusive language used upon you, me, I used red and black. But in this way, I had my kids, I drew my kids, I used a green color, and again, I used yellow color. You see, yellow is, it was a symbol of sun. The sun can shine on you even if you are a sex worker or people are discriminating you."

Countries with Largest Number of People Living with HIV Infections


  • South Africa - 5,600,000
  • Nigeria - 3,300,000
  • India - 2,400,000
  • Kenya - 1,500,000
  • Mozambique - 1,400,000
  • Tanzania - 1,400,000
  • Zimbabwe - 1,200,000
  • Uganda - 1,200,000
  • United States - 1,200,000
  • Russia - 980,000

Source: CIA World Factbook, 2009 estimates
Gideon lives in the Nairobi slum, Kibera, where life is already quite difficult for residents.  Living with HIV does not make things easier. But, he says that body mapping has helped him in his everyday life.

"But once I went to the body mapping session, after going through, I was able to transfer all the pain I was going through, the emotional feelings I had, to the body map," Gideon said.  "Once I had done all those things in a day, I was feeling that I was getting a fresh life in me. I was getting light and young."

You May Like

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debatei
X
Shelley Schlender
July 24, 2014 6:43 PM
In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Death Toll From Israel-Gaza Conflict Surpasses 700

Gaza officials say a shelling hit a compound housing a United Nations-run school in the Gaza Strip, killing more than a dozen people, during an Israeli offensive in the area. Heavy fighting between the Israeli military and Hamas militants continued on Thursday, pushing up the death toll. So far, more than 730 Palestinians and 35 Israelis have been killed in the conflict. VOA's Scott Bobb has the latest from Jerusalem.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Researchers Target Low-Cost Avatar Technology

Scientists at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies say 3-dimensional representations could revolutionize social media. Elizabeth Lee has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid