Cida, Rio de Janeiro

My name is Maria Aparecida Lemos; I prefer to be called Cida Lemos. I am 54 years old, I live in Rio, and I am a person living with AIDS. I have been infected since 2000.

I never thought that AIDS could one day be part of my life. I am a retired teacher, and I always guided my students to take care of themselves, to get treated, and I thought I was immune. When we have little information, little knowledge, we end up not believing that some things can happen to us. I was 45 years old when I was diagnosed, and had never met anyone who had AIDS. I thought only artists got it, or other people—but it happened in my house, in my bed.

A year later, in 2001, I went blind due to an opportunistic disease, a cytomegalovirus that attacked my retina. I lost my eyesight after having five surgeries in each eye. From the moment I went blind, everything changed.

I am usually told I am very strong. People invite me to give talks about my life experience. But I didn’t have any other option. I can stay at home sulking and crying, or I can raise my head and fight. For a year I stayed at home crying, but that didn’t take me anywhere, so I decided to get up and do it differently, seek new challenges. I can say I make myself proud at times.

About Through Positive Eyes

Through Positive Eyes [] tells the story of HIV/AIDS at the end of the third decade of the epidemic, when potent antiretroviral medication has been devised, but when treatment access is far from universal. Through Positive Eyes is an attempt to address key themes of the AIDS epidemic: widespread stigma, extreme social inequality, and limited access to lifesaving medication. The project is based on the belief that challenging stigma against people living with HIV/AIDS is the most effective method for combating the epidemic—and that art is a powerful way to do this. HIV-positive people take part in this unique initiative, creating powerful personal photo essays. From these images, we create local and international advocacy materials including exhibitions, short films, and website. Read more about Through Positive Eyes at

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