AIDS photo diary, 1986–1990

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AIDS photo diary, 1986–1990 is an art work that comprises a photo diary that records the decline in health and eventual death of David Tosh, from AIDS from 1986 to 1990 in Sydney, Australia. The diary – with accompanying photographs taken by John Jenner – was created by Jenner to remember his friend and honour the lives of people living with HIV/AIDS. Some of the images were featured in an article in Sydney Morning Herald's Good Weekend magazine, 13 October 1990, pp. 20–29.[1]


The work includes photographs by John Jenner from 1986 to 1990, together with a biography in the form of a play written by Jenner. The diary also includes poems by Willy Barber.[2]


This diary was one of a number of artistic responses to HIV/AIDS in Australia at a time when medications that could prolong and enhance the quality of life of those living with HIV had not been developed.[3] David Tosh died on 3 May 1990.[4] In 1990 Australia experienced 2381 cases of AIDS as reported by the National Centre in HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research.[5] 97% of these cases were male and the survival rate was only 40%.

Australia’s experience of HIV/AIDS in the 1980s and 90s is thus ancient history, and so much of that time is gone: a time of the dead and the dying; vigil shifts at ward 17; watching brilliant and beautiful men sliding into garbled dementia; polite efforts to avoid funeral scheduling conflicts; two full pages of obits in the Sydney Star Observer; anger and love and screaming horror at the waste of so many lives.
Stephen Dunne, Sydney Morning Herald, 13 November 2006[6]

The diary was exhibited in the 100 Objects Exhibition at the State Library of New South Wales in 2010.[7]


  1. ^ "AIDS photo diary, 1986–1990 / photographed and compiled by John Jenner". SLNSW catalogue. Retrieved 19 April 2013. 
  2. ^ "John Jenner – papers, 1985 – 1993". SLNSW catalogue. Retrieved 19 April 2013. 
  3. ^ Sendziuk, Paul. "Denying the Grim Reaper: Australian Responses to AIDS". Eureka Street. Retrieved 25 December 2016. 
  4. ^ Sydney Morning Herald 'Good Weekend' magazine: 29. 13 December 1990. 
  5. ^ Davies, Peter; Aggleton, Peter; Hart, Graham (1992), AIDS : rights, risk, and reason, Falmer Press, ISBN 978-0-7507-0039-9 
  6. ^ Dunne, Stephen (13 November 2006). "Holding the man". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 24 July 2013. 
  7. ^ SLNSW 100 Objects Exhibition