Venus Williams, age 8, Montclair, New Jersey

Venus Williams
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This is a story of a special and remarkable friendship.

In 1988, Scott Thode began documenting the life of Venus Williams, who was HIV positive and living on the street. At the time he began the project, AIDS was the leading cause of death among women between the ages of 25 to 44, - 61 percent of those infected through IV drug use. Venus was representative of those statistics.

However, as he photographed her and became more involved in her life, he realized there was nothing emblematic about her. Nine years passed as he shared with her the vicious cycle of going from methadone clinic, to shooting gallery, to hospital bed to concrete sidewalk, to a room of her own.

Through it all, her individuality and fierce vitality shone through, and she found a way into his heart.

Venus Williams died last summer of complications caused by AIDS. What follows is a tribute to that friendship.

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