HIV positive artist Daniel Cordner: ‘Nothing about us, without us’


Daniel Cordner
'Bloom where you are planted' by Daniel Cordner

Australian artist and person living with HIV (PLHIV), Daniel Cordner, recently shared his poignant story of personal growth. After the shame and fear of an HIV diagnosis, Daniel interpreted his turn around via a live drawing representation of his ‘positive experience’ at an HIV event in Melbourne.

The idea came from a friend and fellow person living with HIV, Bill Paterson.

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Bill’s story is equally remarkable.

During the 80s and 90s, he was at the forefront of care as an HIV nurse.

Later, as a PLHIV, he helped drive support for PLHIV to live their best lives through his advocacy in health, medical services, and the community. He now supports HIV community engagement in his role at ViiV Healthcare. He advocates that empathy with consumers is a beautifully human approach to business.

Through their collaboration, Bill and Daniel hope to improve the understanding of the contemporary experience of PLHIV in Australia.

They also want to emphasise the importance of a good quality of life for PLHIV despite their challenges. And finally, they hope to inspire a final push towards the virtual elimination of HIV in Australia by leaving no one behind.

Daniel Cordner
Daniel Cordner bringing the artwork to life.

Transformative experience

Daniel explains, “Over the years I began to put myself back together again, piece by piece. This rebuilding of myself and my acceptance of my HIV status was an unexpectedly transformative experience. I can feel myself flourishing while paving my own advocacy journey.

“My artwork for the Make Your Mark On HIV event is about the transformative experience of living with HIV and flourishing.

“The base of the image starts with despair and loneliness. The second part is the transformative experience of what can actually grow from that, allowing yourself to heal. Amazing things can grow if you allow yourself to heal.

“Art can be used to change the conversation around HIV by entering into the conversation in a different way.

“Often around HIV, the conversation is difficult. It can be around loss, death, sadness, and tragedy, and they can prove very difficult things to talk about.

“Through art, the beautiful thing is, people can engage in it without actually needing to talk. All they need to do is feel.”

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