As an individual who has been HIV+ for almost 20 years and has had an AIDS diagnosis for more than half of that time, I am acutely aware of the emotional cost of this disease. So many friends and loved ones have suffered and died. The daily struggle to survive can be insurmountable. Our bodies are deteriorating and endless opportunistic infections come without notice and never leave. Daunting medical regiments are difficult to follow with side effects that seem to compound our stress. Community and institutional support is waning, if it is there at all. The odds of survival seem stacked against us. Many do not make it, but some of us do. We survive. We begrudgingly accept our physical changes, rise to the challenges presented, find support and a helping hand where we can, and we continue. We fight and we stay alive.
Road Tattoo? If roads are considered the skin of a community, then a road is to the public body what skin is to the private body. If people mark their skin as a means of commemoration, communication or ritual; then a road can be marked for the same reasons. Road tattoos are composed of cultural designs previously appropriated to mark skin. Once the design is drawn on the road, names or other specific information is painted within the design, a prayer is said and the design is painted in, covering over this information. They are subtle, usually close in color to the roadway, but made with high-gloss latex causing them to appear and disappear with passing light. Eventually traffic and weather conditions dissolve them into the road.