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Jul 27, 2018

Painting the HIV Picture in Belize

The National AIDS Commission partnered with six young artists to each create an original piece of HIV thematic art at the national testing day in June. The art pieces were officially presented to six sponsors of NAC, including the Atlantic Bank, Belize Family Life Association, Ministry of Health and the B.N.E. Charitable Trust, who will now publicly display the pieces. The paintings were given to the partners to show appreciation for their support and commitment to tackling HIV-AIDS in Belize.  News Five’s Andrea Polanco was at today’s handing over ceremony and files this report.


Andrea Polanco, Reporting

Six artists used their skills to paint important HIV messages. The National AIDS Commission in observing National Testing Day back in June commissioned local artists to put their paintbrush to canvas to tell moving stories in light of Belize joining the call to achieve 90-90-90 by the year 2020. It is an ambitious target to get ninety percent of people living with HIV properly diagnosed, ninety percent of HIV Infected persons to be on the antiretroviral therapy and that at least ninety percent of those persons on the antiretroviral have their viral load reach an undetectable level. The artists presented their pieces today – showing off their interpretations of the HIV theme.


Arthur Usher

Arthur Usher, Communications Officer, NAC

“The concept is basically showcasing that HIV is not a mono-centric situation; that Belize and the world realize that HIV is a socioeconomic, as well as health problem. So, dealing with all of these multiple sectors and multiple areas we also show multiple facets in how are addressing the problem.”


This piece was done by Miriam Rivero – a young artist studying at SJC. Rivero handed over her painting to Atlantic Bank and explains how it sends an uplifting message.


Miriam Rivero, Artist

“The main point was to make it be uplifting. I tried to capture that as best as possible and so that is why I decided to do something bright and colorful like the flowers because I wanted people to feel like there is always something better to come eventually. And the harder you try and reach out, you have better chances.”


Miriam Rivero

Andrea Polanco

“Talk to us about working on it – you did it in a few hours?”


Miriam Rivero

“That one was extremely difficult. I had an idea but starting out painting like the idea was harder to get across on the canvas and it took me a while before I finally got it to look like what I kinda wanted it to look like.   Using whatever talents you have to get across a bigger message or help with a goal is always something inspirational and something I do hope to continue.”


Artist Adlar Coc’s panting captures the achieving 90-90-90 theme – with a focus on the antiretroviral therapy. It took him around three days to complete and today he presented the finished art work to be displayed at the offices of B.F.L.A.


Adlar Coc, Artist

“What my painting represents is a man holding bottle and that bottle represents his medication, so by taking his medication you can then lessen your viral load and help you to prevent the sickness from spreading further – at least lessen the chances of it spreading. So, it supposed to represent him medicating and getting better and it also betters society as well by him representing a more progressive and improving himself and others around him by not spreading the disease.”


Andrea Polanco

“What message do you want to send or what would you want people to feel, particularly the youth, when they look at your painting?”


Adlar Coc

Adlar Coc

“I want it to represent or have them feel the seriousness and impact of it, but I also don’t want them to feel that is something that destroys your life going forward. I want them to feel that it is something that, although, can be seen as something very negative and sad in some sense, there is also hope.”


Usher says that while this medium is not the traditional way of sharing HIV messages – it is an effective and creative method to reach a number of target groups.


Arthur Usher

“It incorporates multiple facets of the society, youth on whole, because these artists are all young artists. So, it gives the youth an opportunity to express and it also gives them an opportunity to fine-tune their art form.  Besides that, it brings light to our multi-sectoral approach to HIV and alleviating HIV within the response. And so bringing these permanent paintings done by Belizean artists and displaying them in public spaces and people can walk by and recognize the imagery and without really talking to someone about HIV, you can relate to a painting. So, it can draw you in and at the same time you can then go and seek help, get counseling, and talk to somebody. So, it is an emotional attachment, as well as a health attachment that we are trying to build with these pieces.”


Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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