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Gay artist creates portrait of Princess Diana in HIV positive blood

Gay artist creates portrait of Princess Diana in HIV positive blood

Artist Conor Collins is based in Manchester, England

A gay artist in England has created a portrait of Princess Diana using diamond dust and blood from someone who is HIV positive.

Manchester-based Conor Collins posted about his latest artwork on Twitter. In a thread, he explained why he had created the artwork.

‘HIV stigma still rife’

‘My portrait of Princess Diana made using HIV positive blood and Diamond Dust.

‘The world was shocked when Diana held hands with a patient with HIV. Decades later, HIV stigma is still rife.

‘We should know the facts. You can’t get HIV from kissing. Undetectable means untransmittable. PREP and PEP work.

‘However widespread HIV stigma, homophobia, racism and transphobia only serve to make new HIV infections more likely.

Princess Diana by Conor Collins
Princess Diana by Conor Collins

‘The latest data in the UK, reported last year but from 2016, is that 93% of those diagnosed are now undetectable and do not pose a transmission risk to sexual partners.

‘Despite this people with HIV are twice as likely to commit suicide, particularly in their first year of diagnosis. The shame has to stop. The stigma has to stop. No one should be driven to this.

‘When Princess Diana held the hand of a man dying of AIDS, few would have imagined that today treatment would exist that would see HIV-positive people living full, healthy, loving lives. When diagnosed and treated early, life-expectancy for someone with HIV is unchanged.

‘We all deserve to be loved. We all deserve to be treated with dignity.

‘HIV is a virus. It has no conscience. It is without colour, without creed, without gender or sexuality. It is incapable of judgement.

‘Stigma however is a choice.

‘The HIV epidemic is fuelled by this stigma, shame and ignorance. Science can treat the disease, but it is love, compassion, respect and understanding that will finally stop the epidemic.’

He also embedded a short video clip of the work, which better demonstrates the glittering diamond dust.

‘The blood itself isn’t mine’

Collins was born in Kent but has lived in Manchester for approximately ten years. Self-taught, he has been painting for the past seven years. He made headlines in 2014 when he created a portrait of Tom Daley made up of abusive messages the Olympic diver has been sent.

He has followed this up with images of Caitlyn Jenner, a portrait of computer pioneer Alan Turing made from the blood of gay doctors, and Donald Trump, created from bigoted comments that the then Presidential frontrunner had made.

Collins elaborated on his latest work to GSN, but declined to reveal where the blood for his latest work had come from.

‘The blood itself isn’t mine, however due to confidentiality reasons I am afraid I can’t share who donated it.’

He said that the experiences of a friend had inspired him to address the issue of HIV stigma.

‘As a HIV negative person I have spent much of my time utterly blinkered to the stigma HIV people are put through every day. It was only after a friend of mine was recently diagnosed that I opened my eyes.

‘He spoke to me about his treatment at work, how men would refuse to date him, how people in all different environments treated him entirely differently in so many ways simply because of his status.

‘He felt as though the future he had hoped and worked for had been stripped away from him in an instant. I was appalled at how he was being treated, but also appalled at how I myself had been so blind to this happening all around me.

‘The discrimination is there on Grindr, it’s there on VISAs, it’s… everywhere. It’s cruel and cold and only serves to build more stigma and shame and this only serves to build an environment where HIV infections are more likely.’

To read more about Conor’s work, check out his website: conartworks.com

See also

HIV stigma summed up in one cruel Grindr message

The day I met Princess Diana when she visited a London HIV center

Top US doctor on HIV undetectable sex: ‘From a practical standpoint, the risk is zero’