AIDS Quilt Is Centerpiece of HIV Awareness Week at Mason

Posted: November 16, 2009 at 1:03 am, Last Updated: November 13, 2009 at 3:09 pm

By Catherine Ferraro

Part of the AIDS Memorial Quilt. Image courtesy of the NAMES Foundation

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, someone in the United States is infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, every 9.5 minutes. In fact, of the more than one million people living with HIV, one out of five doesn’t even know they are infected.

To bring attention to this growing epidemic, Mason will display more than 100 squares from the AIDS Memorial Quilt. The display is one of many activities taking place during HIV Awareness Week from Monday, Nov. 30, through Friday, Dec. 4, on the Fairfax Campus.

The quilt will be displayed in the Johnson Center’s Dewberry Hall on the Fairfax Campus on Tuesday, Dec. 1, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. to commemorate World AIDS Day. World AIDS Day is observed globally to raise awareness about HIV and AIDS.

The AIDS Memorial Quilt, the largest ongoing community arts project in the world, was founded in 1987. Each “block” or section of the quilt measures approximately 12 feet square, and a typical block consists of eight individual 3-by-6-foot panels sewn together. Almost all of the 40,000 colorful panels that make up the quilt memorialize the life of a person lost to AIDS.

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Gary Kreps. Creative Services photo

Gary Kreps. Creative Services photo

According to Gary Kreps, chair and professor in the Department of Communication and director of the Center for Health and Risk Communication, the goals of bringing the AIDS quilt to campus are to raise HIV and AIDS awareness among the Mason community and to demonstrate Mason’s commitment to this worldwide health issue.

“Because Mason is one of the most diverse universities in the country and because of our close proximity to Washington, D.C., which has one of the nation’s highest rates of HIV/AIDS incidence and mortality, this is an issue of particular importance to our university community,” says Kreps.

“We recognize the solemnity of this day and hope to educate people about the dangers of AIDS while also paying tribute to the millions who have died from the disease.”

The commemoration will feature two renowned AIDS advocates: Hydeia Broadbent, who contracted HIV at birth and now educates people across the country about the disease; and Darian “Big Tigger” Morgan, who founded the Street Corner Foundation and Big Tigger’s Annual Celebrity Classic.

The above images show portions of the AIDS Memorial Quilt. Photos courtesy of the NAMES Foundation

The above images show portions of the AIDS Memorial Quilt. Photos courtesy of the NAMES Foundation

Other invited speakers include AIDS scientists and researchers, public health experts and community representatives. Panel discussions, films, artworks and exhibits related to AIDS will be presented in the Johnson Center Cinema in conjunction with the quilt display.

Sponsors and partnering organizations include the Inova Juniper Program, the National Minority AIDS Council, the National Association for People Living with AIDS, the Metro D.C. Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, the National Institutes of Health and the Northern Virginia AIDS Ministry.

Other events taking place as part of HIV Awareness Week follow.

  • Kiosks will be set up at various locations in the Johnson Center throughout the week from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Students can stop by to pick up a Healthy Hook-Up Kit, a red ribbon and information about HIV and AIDS.
  • Free and confidential HIV testing using no needles will be available throughout the week in various locations on campus. Results are available in 20 minutes.
  • On Wednesday, Dec. 2, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Patriot’s Lounge in Student Union Building I will be transformed into the Latex Lounge. Activities will provide prevention education to reduce the incidence of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.
  • An event titled  “Stay Strapped: Can You Bare It?” will feature a benefit concert and student performances to raise awareness of HIV and AIDS on Thursday, Dec. 3, at 8 p.m. in the Johnson Center Bistro.
  • Students will strut their stuff in a fashion show called “Rock the Runway: Black and White, but RED All Over” in an effort to raise awareness about HIV and AIDS. The fashion show takes place on Friday, Dec. 4, at 8 p.m. in Dewberry Hall.

HIV Awareness Week is sponsored by the Office of Alcohol, Drug and Health Education, Student Health Services and University Life.

For a full schedule of events and more information about the AIDS Memorial Quilt, visit masonaidsquilt.com. For more information about HIV Awareness Week, see the online calendar.

Write to mediarel at gazette@gmu.edu