This is not just a dress. It’s a statement. Designer Mandy Webb has been living with HIV for twenty years and is a spokesperson for HIV awareness. When she was asked to write an article about her being a HIV positive woman in 2013, she proved to be a strong woman with a clear voice.
“HIV is not for just World Aids Day, HIV is EVERY DAY. More and more people are living with the condition and we are continually told everyday by the media, by our consultants, by HIV organisations that it's a manageable condition and not a death sentence anymore! WRONG!!! People are still dying; people are still being diagnosed far too late so the virus has taken its toll on their immune systems. Stigma is still huge. Lots of seropositive people still live in fear of being discovered. I decided early on after I had got over the initial shame and fear that I was going to be as outspoken about my status as possible.”
I felt intrigued with her story as I read on. It's true that the medications have drastically improved, but there are still so many people who don’t know that they are HIV positive or do not want to face it due to the stigma surrounding the illness and this is a reason to keep fighting!
Mandy decided that she would always stand by these words and would love to wear them. And instead of keeping that as an idea, she did it. The dress is made by her old bed sheets and the text is based on her article. The balls and chains hanging from the waist represent the weight you have to carry around being HIV positive. “They might get lighter over the years, but they are still huge burdens”, says Mandy.
“SO NO, HIV IS NOT OK!!!
"It shouldn’t be talked about only once a year and as a manageable illness. We should be concerned and talking about it every day to reduce the stigma and reduce the numbers of new infections. For instance, 20% of seropositive inhabitants in the UK are unaware they have the virus. This is a terrifying number and shouldn’t be happening.
I am Mandy Webb and I am HIV positive everyday!”