Photographs by David Rochkind

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According to the World Health Organization, nearly two million people die from Tuberculosis (TB) every year. One third of the world’s population is infected with the bacteria that can cause TB.  It is one of the top three killers of women aged 15-44.  To be sure, these statistics are horrifying, but they don’t do much to increase our understanding of the disease, its causes or the real toll it takes on not only the individuals that have it, but also on the families and communities where it is found.  Reading these statistics may raise our awareness in a way that causes some discomfort, but those feelings will almost surely fade with time. 

This project aims to create an emotional understanding of one of the deadliest diseases of our time.  The photographs, taken in South Africa, India, Haiti, and Moldova, impress upon the viewer the humanity behind the victims of TB and that the disease is not something simply to fear, but something to understand.  By humanizing the patients and communities where TB is present the pictures create a stronger impact with the viewer and evoke empathy, as opposed to sympathy.  This connection allows for the genesis of a deeper dialogue that will ultimately impress upon the viewer that this is a disease that must be reckoned with and that each of us, regardless of where we live, can understand.  The images offer entry points into the subject and, in turn, into the lives of those pictured.
It is easy for images of Tuberculosis, or those of any public health topic, to merely illustrate pain and suffering.  This project attempts to move beyond a superficial view of the disease, and beyond a single geographic region, to convey that TB affects communities across the globe in a myriad of ways.