Andrew Petkun is a photojournalist who takes pictures of people living with HIV/AIDS in order to capture their common humanity, and increase awareness and support to fight the disease.

Since July, 1999, Petkun has documented people at the WAMATA AIDS Support Group in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; the Mother Teresa Center and Orphanage in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Nkosi’s Haven, a home for HIV-positive women and their children in Johannesburg, South Africa; the Coping Center for People Living with AIDS, at the Princess Marina Hospital in Gaborone, Botswana; Island Hospice in Harare, Zimbabwe; Sister Marie Cecile Orphanage in Yaounde, Cameroon; House of Moses Clinic and Orphanage in Lusaka, Zambia; and the Islamic Health Center in Douala, Cameroon. His sensitive portraits have been displayed at the World Bank, in Washington, D. C., the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute in Alabama, the Fernbank Science Center in Atlanta, and numerous American embassies in Africa, and have been published by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), in reports submitted to the United States Congress.

Petkun has lectured widely in Africa; and, at the Center for AIDS Research and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University; the Global Health Council in Washington, D. C.; the University of Virginia Medical School; Boston University School of Medicine; the University of Wisconsin/State of Wisconsin HIV/AIDS conference; and the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Care. In February, 2002, he delivered a keynote address at the 9th Annual Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections, jointly sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Foundation for Retrovirology and Human Health, and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Since June, 2001, he has made three trips to sub-Saharan Africa on behalf of the U.S. State Department, and has been credited with helping to destigmatize HIV/AIDS and the people who suffer needlessly from it, and to affect behavioral change where the epidemic is widespread.

U.S. State Department and American embassy officials have said he is “an excellent image of the humanitarian spirit of America” and “a passionate speaker with a gift of establishing an instant rapport with his audiences. His use of photographs is very effective in giving HIV/AIDS a human dimension and couching the message of destigmatizing the disease in immediate, personal, and poignant terms. His listeners described his presentations as ‘extremely educational,’ ‘compassionate,’ ‘a real voice to the people who suffer, who have no voice,’ and spoke of his ‘real sense of connection with the children, men, and women suffering.”

Proceeds of donations, honoraria, exhibition and speaking fees go directly to fund Petkun’s continuing documentation of people living with HIV/AIDS, as well as the people he photographs and the organizations which support them.

— Updated February 9, 2003

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