A portion of the AIDS Memorial Quilt will be on display in the “Classic City” from Feb. 18-20 as part of a commemoration for AIDS Athens’ 25th year of providing HIV / AIDS services.
The three day event will be held at the city's Classic Center and will begin with an opening ceremony Feb. 18 from 6-7:30 p.m. Many of the sections on display will have significance to the Athens area.
The quilt is maintained by The Names Project and was first conceived in the mid-1980s by San Francisco gay rights activist Cleve Jones as a way to memorialize a growing number lost to AIDS. Since its inception, more than 40,000 panels have been added to the memorial.
Those working at the Names Project Foundation, home of the AIDS Memorial Quilt, get asked the same question over and over, according to staff member Jim Marks: “When is the Quilt going back to Washington, D.C.?”
A benefit on Saturday, March 31, at Mixx will benefit “Quilt in the Capital 2012,” also coincides with the Quilt’s 25th anniversary.
The event is hosted by Ms. Patty Cakes and will include an appearance and performance by Bubba D. Licious, Marks’ alter-ego. It features a silent auction, personal quilt stories and a display of quilt panels.
Since 1988 when World AIDS Day was conceived by the World Health Organization, people around the globe have made Dec. 1 a time to raise awareness about the pandemic that has taken the lives of more than 617,000 people in the U.S. and 30 million worldwide since its beginnings 30 years ago.
In Atlanta and Georgia, numerous events are planned including free HIV testing by AIDS service organizations and health departments. This year’s theme is “Getting to Zero” — zero new infections, zero AIDS cases and zero stigma.
But remembering AIDS for one day out of the year is not enough, said Michael Baker, director of development for Positive Impact in Atlanta, an organization that focuses on culturally competent mental health counseling, substance abuse treatment and risk reduction services to those who are affected by HIV.
The Names Project Foundation AIDS Memorial Quilt is currently in the midst of “World AIDS Day” season — sending out blocks of the quilt around the country as the annual Dec. 1 commemoration nears.
“This is the time of year we call ‘World AIDS Day season,’” says Jada Harris, director of programs for the AIDS Memorial Quilt, which has its national headquarters in Atlanta.
“Most quilts will be off the shelves in the next couple of weeks. We get requests from different countries, but most requests come from the U.S.,” Harris says.
Blocks of the Quilt are shipped via UPS and FedEx from the Atlanta warehouse where the 54-ton quilt is housed. Larger blocks of the Quilt are also shipped via trucks.