A model has been awarded $125,000 after a state agency used a stock image of her for an HIV campaign.

Avril Nolan, a Brooklyn-based model, filed a lawsuit against Getty Images in 2013 after she realised that her photo had been used in the public health campaign.

In the campaign, Nolan, who is not HIV positive, is pictured next to the words “I am positive” and “I have rights” – which she claimed in the suit damaged her personal and professional relationships and caused her emotional distress.

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According to Nolan, she was notified of the campaign after a friend saw the ad on Facebook – a realisation that made her “sick to the bottom of her stomach,” according to the New York Post.

Nolan also sought $1.5m from the Division of Human Rights, alleging it had improperly used the photo.

According to NBC, the photo of Nolan was from a “street-style” photo shoot for a magazine piece in 2011 – which was later sold to Getty.

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The HIV ad ran in three online publications and four print publications.

Judge Thomas Scuccimarra said the issue stemmed from the ad not including a disclaimer identifying Nolan as a model.

Judge Scuccimarra also found Nolan “suffered emotional distress and humiliation during the immediate aftermath of the publication and for some time thereafter; however, there is no basis for an award of future damages,” according to The Post.


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Nolan was not awarded the full amount because the judge noted that she was not currently in counselling and owned a successful business.