Hello everybody, let me first introduce myself: my name is Nynke Westerveen and since 2008 I've been a freelance visual artist/photographer. During my studies in Fashion Communication, I was always striving to find my personal interpretation and then concluded my educational path with a documentary about teenagers and fashion. It's a documentary about fiction and non-fiction which focuses on adolescence, a project describing my social interests and curiosity for kids and young people.
I love meeting people and exploring, but this time I'm not only travelling for myself... my aim is actually to introduce Designers against AIDS to South-America!
My first encounter - Buenos Aires, San Telmo, 3rd November, around 2 pm
While strolling around Plaza Dorrego I decided to approach some local fellows who were selling handmade jewellery. These guys, all between 27 and 35 years old, were at first a bit uncomfortable about safe sex. Of course it's not a topic you would easily talk about with a stranger! After a while it became more serious and one of the guys told me he had become father because of one of his crazy nights. After that night he's changed - a bit, at least - and now he's more aware about consequences. He doesn't live together with his son's mother, but both parents are taking care of the child, who is now 3 years old. What really surprised me was his reason for using (well, in this case for NOT using) a condom: avoiding pregnancy. He didn't even mention sexually transmitted diseases, as if the only big concern is to avoid becoming a father after a one-night stand. Hospitals hand out condoms, but still the government doesn't take HIV seriously. In my opinion giving free condoms is a good start but not enough, though.
So I decided to go to the hospital in the same street to ask for more information about free condoms. There I met Melanie, a nurse who's working on the HIV ward. She's a member of CEPAD, an organisation based in Buenos Aires which provides support on HIV/AIDS prevention and testing. I gave her a DAA brochure and we discussed on how to reach people more effectively. She confirmed my suspicion: condoms are mainly worn to avoid becoming a parent. "Diseases?" "What are you talking about?". The government pays for rubbers and that's it.
Next week I'm invited to a meeting at the hospital. I hope I'll get to know more about how the ward works and what insiders think. Get back to you soon!
Love from Buenos Aires,