Claire Yaffa: Children with AIDS, Chapter 16

Claire Yaffa took her first photograph 45 years ago when her son was 18 months old and it was the beginning of her journey, first as a mother, then as a photographer. She has worked extensively for The New York Times and Associated Press. Her photographs have appeared in countless influential publications and have been exhibited at major venues in the US and around the world.

Leica Notebook, Chapter 16

These photographs of children with AIDS were taken from 1990 to 2002 at Incarnation Children’s Center in New York. It is my hope, with my exhibition at the New-York Historical Society, that the spirit and memory of these children will live on and not be forgotten. During their brief lives, they suffered. Yet, they were loved and cared for. They became a part of our lives and will remain with us forever. In the darkened gallery, the photographs are of children who did not survive. There is one child, Devonne, who turns 21 in June 2013. I was asked why he was the only one. Are there answers? Today, mothers who are infected do not give birth to children with AIDS . If tested positive, they are given AZT when they are pregnant. The children in these photographs did not survive, but perhaps their short life contributed to medical knowledge and are the reason for a new generation of babies who are now not born with AIDS.

Anthony, as the sun poured in the window, it seemed to envelop him. This photo is the main focus of the exhibition.

Anthony the day before he died with Sister Connie and Abagail’s hands. They loved him very much and were always there for him.

Jack, a volunteer, with Anthony and his friends.


Milka, an aide, with her patient.



Tracy at 11 months of age.

Devonne when first admitted to Incarnation Children’s Center. He could not walk or talk. He is receiving therapy with the help of the other little patients.

Devonne with his dog, after being adopted by his foster parents. He celebrates his 21st birthday in June 2013.

– Claire Yaffa

Claire’s exhibition “Children with AIDS: Spirits and Memory. Photographs by Claire Yaffa” is on display June 7 – September 15, 2013 at the New-York Historical Society. Click here fore more information. You can also see more of Claire’s work on her website,

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  • Claire,

    Photography is such a very powerful medium for communication. This essay was a reminder of that. Thank you for sharing these images. I am afraid I am speechless.

  • the emotion these images bring out are exactly what is looked for quality photography. I do so wish that I may be of help in the future

  • Wow, this is an incredibly moving set of images. I don’t know if I would have had the strength to capture this. Very thought provoking.

  • Thank you for sharing and making us reflect on such a touching topic. Your images show so much humanity.

  • This series of photographs took my breath away, their poignancy tells a deeply moving and important story and are the children’s memorial.

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