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Author Topic: Toni Kitti, an hiv-positive artist from Finland and proud about it!  (Read 206 times)

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Offline ponkke

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Hei, folks!

This is me, Toni Kitti! I am an hiv-positive person and artist living in Helsinki, Finland. I have quite a shocking story with HIV.

In August 26th  2012 I moved to Berlin with my friends and  my beloved cat to start a new life after having some career burnouts here in Finland. It was all nice and I loved the city. After three weeks stay I got little cold which soon worsened so that I could not stand on my two feet anymore. On September 27th I was taken to a hospital because I was so sick. The doctor looked at me, noticed the couple of red marks on my arms and said: "You have AIDS". I said: No, it can't be". But I was wrong.

The next two weeks are really blurry to me because I got into a psychosis because of the fever and the bad news. I even tried to run away from the hospital many times so they hired a nurse to sit next to my bed 24/7. When I came back to senses I could not even speak properly. But I could hear and I learned that my life had changed forever: I was hiv-positive, I had serious pneumonia and my prognosis was uncertain. I stared death straight into it's eyes for a year.

In mid-November I was moved back to Helsinki because I had not yet based anything serious in Berlin. I spent three more weeks in hospital here and then I got out.

The most horrible part about getting AIDS was the fact that I also got a very bad case of kaposi's sarcoma. When I took a first look into a mirror at the hospital in Berlin I was shocked. I thought, this is it, my life is over. But it wasn't. Slowly but surely I got better. Because of the kaposi I was on chemotherapy for over a year when the antibiotics for the pneumonia finally could be stopped in May 2013. Kaposi lesions were all over my body and they all still have not faded. But I have not given up with them. I am trying laser treatments and if they don't work I will walk into a tattoo parlor.

The reason why AIDS struck me was that I had not been tested for far too long. In the beginning of the millennium I read on the internet some false media sites that claimed that HIV does not exist and fell for it. It was a horrible mistake and almost killed me. I was extremely stupid and felt shame because of that.

How can you survive something like that mentally? How is it possible?

I know! Talk about it!

So I did. I talked to my friends and family. I am also an educated artist and I put my experiences and emotions into my art and used it as a therapy. I overcame the shame and other hurting feelings. I also got involved in activism with the Finnish organization of HIV-positive people, Positiiviset ry. I realized that I am not alone and I am not the only one.

I have taken quite shocking pictures of my struggle and survival with AIDS. On 28.3. - 16.4. I had an exhibition here in Finland with the pictures. The name of the exhibition is "The Persistence Of Plastic". I also told my story in the biggest Finnish newspaper. I thought that audience would kill me for being filthy gay and stupid but no, something strange happened. The reception was overwhelmingly warm which surprised me totally.

What I have learnt from this and in life generally is that you have to be open no matter what you are going through. That is the only way if you are going to really survive ans thrive after hard times. You have to take the masks off!

I am now ready to present my story internationally and I think that this is a good place to start, with you. Please, check out my website where you can see the pictures and my artistic statement and put them into your heart if you feel my story touched you there. I am ready to speak out as I have already done in Finland.

My story is a universal story not just about AIDS and HIV but of humanity and what it is like to go through life being true to yourself even after you have done things that sometimes make you feel you should not be proud about yourself. But I am. I stayed true to myself and had the courage to show it to other people too with my art.

Love to you all! Love to read you comments, too!

Here is my site. You can contact me there if you wish. I am all yours! This in a new beginning!

http://www.tonikitti.com

-Toni-
« Last Edit: April 20, 2017, 05:13:11 PM by ponkke »

Online JimDublin

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Re: Toni Kitti, an hiv-positive artist from Finland and proud about it!
« Reply #1 on: April 21, 2017, 09:54:58 AM »
Hi Toni.

Interesting art and post. Thank you.

I do have something to add from a forum side:

Please don't take my feedback to heart and its not against forum rules to post links to projects unless your getting paid for them or for the views. It would have been good to check with the mod, as we had a few questions/comments sent over to us. 

Anyhow I wish you well with this project it would be a shame if you are just posting this here to channel traffic.  So i do hope as you mentioned its to have a open debate because as a community we can offer you and I am sure you us a lot more to offer than just the links to the project/art, anyhow I hope you continue to be part of this community.
 
Like I said don't take my comment to heart and its not meant in any negative way however it also provides people clarity that we had seen your post and are aware of it.  I hope you understand. 

Jim
« Last Edit: April 21, 2017, 10:08:23 AM by JimDublin »
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Offline ponkke

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Re: Toni Kitti, an hiv-positive artist from Finland and proud about it!
« Reply #2 on: April 21, 2017, 02:26:58 PM »
JimDublin,

Thank you for your reply! I appreciate and understand your point.

However, this is just not about me marketing my art. No.

With this project I am coming out as a human being, hiv-positive person and artist. So I do not know any other way to start talking about it but inform people about my art. Art is my way of doing this. I don't know any other way.

I have already been a speaker here in Finnish hiv-community and I intend to continue doing it. I think that my example can encourage many people to come out as what ever they are. The night before my exhibition and the newspaper story came out I went to see HIV-mom Jennifer Vaughans videos on Youtube and her courage gave me more reason to believe that I am doing the right thing.

You can not separate and artist from his work because art is my language. That is the reason I linked my website here. It would take a thousand words for me write down the things that you can see in one picture I have taken.

What I really want here is a discussion and to encourage other people who are suffering from feelings of shame at this moment because of their status. I am ready to share my experiences.

-Toni-

« Last Edit: April 21, 2017, 02:48:11 PM by ponkke »

Offline ponkke

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Re: Toni Kitti, an hiv-positive artist from Finland and proud about it!
« Reply #3 on: April 21, 2017, 02:46:26 PM »
JimDublin,

Actually I am shocked of this reception. That people think that I am just promoting myself and that is my only intention.

I think that my pictures tell a beautiful story about survival. But they also serve as a very serious warning to everyone afraid to get tested.

Do not be afraid of getting tested. Be afraid of that something much more serious  what can happen if you don't get tested. I am a living example of that and it was just pure luck that I am alive here to argue about this post. I was really, really close to dying when I was hospitalized. I had an abscess the size of my fist in my right lung because of the pneumonia. I was in psychosis for two weeks. I still carry the kaposis scars. I had to pay a high price for my luck.

I am sorry if people are reporting my post and not seeing the point of it all. It was not my intention to hurt anyone's feelings. I don't know what to say about that.

I don't have anything else to say. Thank you.

-Toni-


Offline ponkke

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Re: Toni Kitti, an hiv-positive artist from Finland and proud about it!
« Reply #4 on: April 21, 2017, 02:53:53 PM »
JimDublin,

I have one more thing to say.

There is something about internet that makes people act weird. I have never, ever seen a discussion forum thread that does not end up with people arguing about rules or whatever they just want to argue about.

I have never ever taken part in any of those arguments but now I am in the middle of one.

It's a werid world.

-Toni-

Online JimDublin

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Re: Toni Kitti, an hiv-positive artist from Finland and proud about it!
« Reply #5 on: April 21, 2017, 02:59:25 PM »
Art can bring out strong reactions, and thoughts from people. Sometimes different than you expect, and people will have different points of view that much is for sure. Be open towards them and use it.

As for people reporting your post it is also the reason i posted, so members know that its fine we have seen it and to show you are here to talk and interact with them.
See it from their side there have been plenty of people in the past who were just marketing stuff.

Quote
There is something about internet that makes people act weird. I have never, ever seen a discussion forum thread that does not end up with people arguing about rules or whatever they just want to argue about.

Being public does not mean you will always have the reactions you expect, be that from the wider HIV negative community or HIV positive community.  You need to be open towards that if you are putting yourself out into the world.

I will say this without going off topic too much as a comment that most threads here are very uneventful and just supportive and its a shame you do not see that.
 
Anyhow I do hope you did well with the recent exhibition.

Jim
« Last Edit: April 21, 2017, 03:05:56 PM by JimDublin »
HIV 101 - Index & everything you need to know
HIV 101
You can read more about Transmission and Risks here:
HIV Transmission and Risks
You can read more about Testing here:
HIV Testing
You can read more about Treatment-as-Prevention (TasP) here:
HIV TasP
You can read more about HIV prevention here:
HIV prevention
You can read more about PEP and PrEP here
PEP and PrEP

Offline ponkke

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Re: Toni Kitti, an hiv-positive artist from Finland and proud about it!
« Reply #6 on: April 21, 2017, 03:07:13 PM »
JomDublin,

Thank you for teaching me.

-Toni-

Offline Ptrk3

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Re: Toni Kitti, an hiv-positive artist from Finland and proud about it!
« Reply #7 on: April 21, 2017, 03:31:20 PM »
Welcome, ponkke, to the forums.

I look forward to your unique future contributions.
HIV 101 - Basics
HIV 101
You can read more about Transmission and Risks here:
HIV Transmission and Risks
You can read more about Testing here:
HIV Testing
You can read more about Treatment-as-Prevention (TasP) here:
HIV TasP
You can read more about HIV prevention here:
HIV prevention
You can read more about PEP and PrEP here
PEP and PrEP

Offline CaveyUK

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Re: Toni Kitti, an hiv-positive artist from Finland and proud about it!
« Reply #8 on: April 21, 2017, 04:06:42 PM »
Some interesting art there. The one where you are licking the glass is....interesting ;)

Some of the stuff is great, some is bonkers. There is clearly a slightly-mad gene inside you, but then thats the same with all great artists!

I know it wasn't on the linked page, but I think some of your lighting stuff is really really good by the way...

Look forward to reading your contributions, and really pleased you are in a better place now from when you were first diagnosed.

Cheers

Cavey

Diagnosed 29th Dec, after Home test 27th Dec 2015
29th Dec 2015 - CD4 160, VL 70,363, CD4% 16
Started Septrin 31st Dec & Tivicay/Truvada 12th Jan 2016
9th February 2016 - CD4 245, VL 96, CD4% 19
8th March 2016 - VL 61 (no CD4 taken)
5th April 2016 - CD4 354, VL  - UD (<40), CD4% 22
5th July 2016 - VL - UD (<40) (no CD4 taken)
13th September 2016 - CD4 432, VL - UD (<40), CD4% 28
13th December 2016 - VL - UD (<40) (no CD4 taken)

Offline ponkke

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Re: Toni Kitti, an hiv-positive artist from Finland and proud about it!
« Reply #9 on: April 21, 2017, 06:19:41 PM »
CaveyUK,

Thank you for your kind words. It is the greatest compliment I can think of when someone calls me crazy because that is what I am.

It is my firm belief that this world would be a better place if we all could find the crazy child in ourselves once again. I am sure you remember how funny you were as a child before everyone started to tell you how to behave and what to do to be a proper human being. I want to stand as an example of that. Go out of yourself, take off the masks and face yourself. We are all pure beings if we just let the light shine. The world does all it can to extinguish that fire within us but we must not give up. We have to be crazy to truely exist and live life to it's fullest.

I know it sounds religous and that's what it is. All we have is our belief in the better future. Without that we are nothing but empty shells. Life is hard and tough everyday. For everyone. Life is never easy. That is the reason why I am doing this thing now. Coming out from the depths of death and shame standing tall and proud of myself. I want to reach out to people and tell them what I learned at the edge of life and death. Ofcourse I didn't realize it back then and sometimes I forget it myself, too. But when I am at my best I know what life is about.

It is about accepting yourself, loving yourself, being true to yourself. In the end there is nothing else and that's all there is. Everything else is secondary and comes as the result of that self acceptance and love.

Life is crazy. Love is crazy. You also have to be crazy.

-Toni-

Offline ponkke

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Re: Toni Kitti, an hiv-positive artist from Finland and proud about it!
« Reply #10 on: April 21, 2017, 06:48:55 PM »
Ptrk3,

Thank you for welcoming me! I just have to say that I have been active here before about a year ago when I was talking about the treatment of kaposi's sarcomas scars and asking for advice. I have not been active on that thread for a long time because I have nothing new to tell. I have tried different kind of lasers and even scar tattooing but nothing has helped so far.

But I have not given up the hope that someday I am going to have my skin back again. The skin that I feel comfortable in. The skin that I don't have to cover with makeup to feel normal even just a little bit.

I am still in the process and when something groundbreaking happens I will let you all know. I am very thankful for all the advice people gave me in that thread and I have not forgotten about it.

How could I? Every time I look at myself, I see it.

-Toni-
« Last Edit: April 21, 2017, 06:50:58 PM by ponkke »

Offline Ptrk3

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Re: Toni Kitti, an hiv-positive artist from Finland and proud about it!
« Reply #11 on: April 21, 2017, 06:59:50 PM »
In that case, welcome back!

I hope all goes well and that your skin heals completely.
HIV 101 - Basics
HIV 101
You can read more about Transmission and Risks here:
HIV Transmission and Risks
You can read more about Testing here:
HIV Testing
You can read more about Treatment-as-Prevention (TasP) here:
HIV TasP
You can read more about HIV prevention here:
HIV prevention
You can read more about PEP and PrEP here
PEP and PrEP

Offline paintedroom

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Re: Toni Kitti, an hiv-positive artist from Finland and proud about it!
« Reply #12 on: April 21, 2017, 09:20:36 PM »
It`s late here in ireland and i have had too much red wine.. but i couldn`t resist saying a word or 2 as i have Ks too..although not like you all over my body.
Your self portrait is arresting..i hope you remember to accept some compassion for yourself..not to simply triumph over it.It is complex in it`s relation to you -sometimes of you,intrinsic,integral..sometimes detached,depersonalized.i don`t rush it anymore,it`s a journey.9 months in and i still don`t think it has sunk in..maybe it never will as i`m lucky enough that it`s ghost like.

Enough ! Jim mentioned the word community earlier on in this thread..i`m going to bed with that thought in mind.

Stay strong,P.
Dx`d mid July 2016
8/8/2016 - CD4 50     VL 50,000
5/9/2016 -  CD4 150
13/9/2016  VL  undetectable.
March `17 - CD4 193   VL undetectable.

Genvoya and Bactrim

 


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