AIDS Quilt at Pacific

Nov. 14, 2012

AIDS Memorial Quilt, presentations bring awareness about HIV/AIDS to Pacific University.

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Bobby Rosenthal loved Tigger.

John Gearing loved the piano and Alaska.

Zoe Lovenz-Trauth loved her husband and the musical Rent.

We know little about these people. Their stories are told in images — photos, symbols, phrases selected to represent their entire lives.

But thanks to The AIDS Memorial Quilt, we know they lived, we know they loved, and we know they died.

Four blocks of The AIDS Memorial Quilt are on display this month in the Pacific University Library as part of a traveling exhibit designed to bring awareness and increase education about the disease.

“In a war against a disease that has no cure, The AIDS Memorial Quilt has evolved as our most potent tool in the effort to education against the lethal threat of AIDS,” says a press release from the NAMES Project Foundation. “By revealing the humanity behind the statistics, The AIDS Memorial Quilt helps teach compassion, triumphs over taboo, stigma and phobia; and inspires individuals to take direct responsibility for their own well-being and that of their family, friends and community.”

The quilt began with a single 3- by 6-foot panel created in San Francisco in 1987. Today, it is composed of more than 48,000 panels. Blocks of the quilt are on continuous display across the country in hope of making the casualties of HIV and AIDS real.

Though what we know about the disease has changed tremendously since its discovery in the early 1980s, its impact has only continued to grow. In the United States, nearly 1 million people live with HIV/AIDS, and some 40,000 are infected each year — a quarter under the age of 21.

Treatment of the disease continues to evolve, and new drugs and technologies have dramatically increased the life expectancy of those with the disease in America. But worldwide, HIV/AIDS continues to devastate not only individual lives, but communities and economies.

On Wednesday, members of the Pacific University community were able to learn more about evolving treatments and best practices across the health professions in a presentation at the Health Professions Campus by Makaria Reynolds of the Elisabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation.

Thursday, community members are invited to hear success stories about treating pediatric HIV patients in Africa. Reynolds will lead the discussion at 7:30 p.m. in Marsh Hall’s Taylor Auditorium. Admission is free.

The AIDS Memorial Quilt exhibit, meanwhile, will remain on display in the Library on the Forest Grove Campus through Dec. 2. The quilt also has been archived and is searchable online at www.aidsquilt.org.