Friday, November 23, 2007

Be True: Jason Wessenaar

Be Positive. Be True. - Counsellor & AIDS Activist: "Jason tested HIV positive more than seven years ago. Since then he could have been a poster boy for being openly positive and upbeat. Going public with his HIV status was a carefully considered decision as it affected not only himself, but his loved ones too. However, living a lie was not an option and the stigmatisation of Positive people only motivated him more to get involved and to spread hope, knowledge and positivity about HIV and AIDS. And through all of this, he is simply staying true to himself."

I first met Jason in a radio studio, during a broadcast of Criselda Kananda's show on Metro FM. I had seen him on TV before, pointed out to me by my wife, as someone she greatly admired after meeting him during her stint as a be-friender at the University of Pretoria's Centre for the Study of AIDS. While listening to him speak, I realised he was perfect for the Dazed & Confused:Japan story I was shooting, as a result of his calm, positive nature. Still, I had only a few days to complete the story, and it was not until this Nike campaign that I was able to again meet him, and attempt to say something of his story.

He now works for JHPIEGO and time constraints being what they were, there was little time to portray his personality in his relatively new office. That said, I hope the portrait does him justice, as he is someone whose views and nature can immediately make one reconsider ideas around
stigmatisation and how people today perceive the realities of HIV/AIDS.



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