When Ruben Bermudez, 31, found out that he had HIV more than a decade ago, he didn't want to take his medicine. He went on treatment for a few weeks, but said the intensive pill regimen made him feel dizzy.
He stopped treatment and tried to ignore the diagnosis, moving to Florida from Washington in pursuit of sunshine. In 2008, he learned that one of his best friends died of a brain tumor that couldn't be treated because his immune system has been debilitated by AIDS. Bermudez realized that his only chance at a relatively healthy life would depend on taking pills daily.
One of the alarming consequences of the financial crisis in Greece appears to be a sharp rise in the rate of HIV infection.
The country, which is struggling through a historic debt crisis and a deep recession, still has one of the lowest HIV infection rates in Europe. But budget cuts to health and social services seem to be driving a recent and dramatic increase, especially among injecting drug users.
The province of KwaZulu-Natal has emerged as the epicenter of South Africa's HIV epidemic. South Africa already has more people infected with HIV than any other country in the world, but parts of KwaZulu-Natal have HIV rates that are more than twice the national average.
Now in addition to HIV and AIDS, the province is also dealing with a major tuberculosis epidemic.
In the northeastern part of KwaZulu-Natal, dusty dirt tracks wind through pastures and fields of sugar cane. The hillsides are dotted with small huts made of cinder blocks and field stones.
Originally published on Sat February 2, 2013 8:06 am
Credit David Binder
Photographer David Binder began documenting stories about AIDS in the late 1980s and became well known for humanizing the epidemic for various publications, including Life magazine and The Philadelphia Inquirer.