JAMES NACHTWEY, the preeminent conflict photographer of his generation, recently shot a Time cover story on AIDS in Africa, which included his ten-page photo essay on the subject:

HIV flourishes in a state of unawareness. There’s no immunity to AIDS, and science hasn’t yet produced an AIDS vaccine. The prevention of AIDS is a matter of awareness. The press, and in particular still photography, can play a tremendous role in public education. It can illustrate many of the social conditions in which HIV spreads. It can make real the consequences of AIDS. It can demystify and humanize a disease that can only be fought through compassionate understanding.

Recently Time magazine published a cover and 20 pages on the subject of AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa (Time, February 12, 2001), including ten pages of black-and-white photographs from my two trips to Zimbabwe and South Africa. Serious coverage of this depth runs counter to current trends in visual journalism in America. It was a bold and decisive statement by the editor of Time, Jim Kelly, and a recognition of the power of the press to create awareness and to help advance the dialogue surrounding a vital issue. It was a reaffirmation of journalistic responsibility.