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The Blood of Christ (a powerful one-man AIDS protest)


Reminiscent of some of ACT UP's most powerful visuals, Polo Gomez, 43, wore a crown of needles holding what he said was his own HIV-infected blood during a protest against the increasing prices of AIDS treatment, in Mexico City, on June 18, 2008. Mexico City is currently hosting the International AIDS Conference.

AIDS activist Polo Gomez crown of needles

(AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

Polo Gomez

The writing on his chest says "VIH-SIDA EMERGENCIA NACIONAL," or "HIV/AIDS National Emergency."

Do the pictures make you cringe? Do they make you sad? Angry? There's no doubting they make you think.

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Comments on Peter Staley's blog entry "The Blood of Christ (a powerful one-man AIDS protest)"

OK. It's been almost a day since I first saw this posted and my still the same: Wow. And I like it.

I don't know if Polo will ever see this post or comments, but if he does, Thank you for what you've done!

Hmmmm...A picture is really worth a thousand words!
I Love it!

I love the photos. It's great to see activism at work.

One thing, though: blood is infected with HIV, not AIDS. The language choice makes a difference.

Wow as a activist myself I think it is very controversial but I love it...

I wanted to invite you to my site. Please if you have a chance check it out..

In hopes of inspiring,
Robert Breining

Thanks for pointing out my boo-boo in the text. I copied that from the AP photo description. I've made the correction to say "HIV-infected.."

It really would be offensive to a lot of people with faith. The analogy of HIV and the Crucifixion isn't a good one imo. It is great art, shocking but in the end drives those of faith away rather than drawing them in imo. I think if he had a real crown of thorns and was kneeling over a sick man and a priest was standing next to him with horse blinders talking to a fat man it would be more accurate of the church's response to HIV. I don't think it would be feasible but Christ and the leper or the Samaritan would be better. Samaritans and Jews were like Palestinians and jews kinda like how a lot of people still view gays

If Señor Gomez staged his protest in many areas of the USA he probably would be arrested for public endangerment or an equally specious charge.

I find no coverage (in English) for this incident except the snippet on USA Today's site, which has little credibility as a source of accurate news. That Señor Gomez said his syringes contained "AIDS-infected" blood isn't clear, nor is known if he made references to Christ. A crown of thorns holds associations other than Christian although Christians may certainly assume otherwise. Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and other "people of faith" might not be offended.

When you look at what the crown of thorns that Jesus wore represented honestly, there should be nothing offensive about this image. The crown of thorns represented our suffering that Christ bore on the cross and what, if not suffering, is living with HIV?

I think we need more people protesting and drawing attention to the fact that we are still dying of this disease. Someone said it was offensive, What I find offensive is that 28 years have gone by and millions of people have died and not enough is being done to stop this disease. I think we need to go back to the beginning and get in the streets and demand more than just a handful of medicine that is horribly expensive and horribly toxic be what we have for AIDS almost 30 years on. Maybe if we had the money spent on 2 senseless wars to spend on AIDS we would have a cure by now.

Mark Edwards
Los Angeles

I understand as a Christian why this image would be controversial. But, I think it is an important theological point that Jesus IS the oppressed, not merely on the SIDE of the oppressed. Jesus was a political prisoner who was tortured and killed by the state by the death penalty. He was very controversial.

I think what is key to drawing people in, or away, is context. We can help enlighten and mobilize people by leafleting with sensitive, educational and pro-Christian information next to our brave artists making these statements. But, yes, if we're doing work with regular folks who are Christian it means reaching out and working with (liberationist) Christians. A great group of Mexicans doing this is Mexicanos Unidos (

Lastly, equating fat people with evil is an form of anti-fat oppression that is often linked to misogyny and something Jesus never did. I understand needing a softer story like Jesus and the Samaritan for more conservative people who you haven't built a relationship with yet. But, I'd hope we could, in the words of Paul of Tarsus, move our society away from a baby bottle understanding of Jesus.

I Corinthians 3:1-2: "And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able."

That is moving people from Jesus on the side of the oppressed to Jesus as the oppressed.

Peace and love. Thanks, Poz

the pain & frustration in Polo Gomez's eyes is palpable... living with this hideous disease, i too know that pain

In World War II, it was the Jew, and today it is those infected with HIV. In other ages it has been the Black Plague and TB. For a time it was the Leper. The message is the same, irrespective of the passage of time. We are called by Christ to love the unloved and those considered unlovable in our society and in other cultures of this small world we call Mother Earth.
Whenever I go to a meeting of HIV/AIDS activists, I am keenly aware that the presence of God is among the people we serve. I walk among them, also naked, as priest and as a man of prayer. I've learned to love my brother and sister in HIV as I love myself, for we are one.


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This page contains a single entry by Peter Staley published on August 5, 2008 2:05 PM.

New CDC Stats: HIV Rising in Gay Men, While Falling in All Other Groups was the previous entry in this blog.

How Promising Is It? Notes From The VRX496 Conference Call (the first gene therapy for HIV) is the next entry in this blog.

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