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The AIDS Memorial Quilt in D.C. During AIDS 2012

By Lauren Broussard

May 24, 2012

Photo from aidsquilt.org.

Photo from aidsquilt.org.

This summer, as the global HIV and AIDS community gathers in Washington, DC for AIDS 2012, The AIDS Memorial Quilt will make a rare return to the international stage. Started in 1987, The Quilt is comprised of panels memorializing those whose lives have been lost to AIDS.

During the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, June 28-July 8, 2012, the NAMES Project -- caretaker of The Quilt -- and the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage will present portions of The Quilt (8,000 panels) on the National Mall. The festival program, "Creativity and Crisis: Unfolding The AIDS Memorial Quilt," will feature visual artists, designers, quilters, dancers, and musicians, and will underscore the power of the arts as a tool for social, cultural, and economic awareness and change.

Then, in recognition of AIDS 2012, the entire AIDS Memorial Quilt will be displayed over the course of 5 days on the National Mall (between 8th and 14th streets), July 21-25, 2012. Panels will also be displayed in more than 55 other venues throughout July, including HHS headquarters at the Hubert H. Humphries building, as well as sites ranging from the National Cathedral to Nationals Stadium.

Throughout its long history, The Quilt has been used to fight prejudice and to raise awareness and funding through its unparalleled ability to make HIV and AIDS real, human, and compelling to every sector of society.

New panels arrive at The NAMES Project every day and, to date, more than 20 million individuals have seen The Quilt at tens of thousands of displays in schools, places of worship, community centers, business and government buildings, and other settings. Wherever it is displayed, individuals are moved by this visual demonstration of the impact of the epidemic.

There are many opportunities to get involved with The Quilt's display this summer. Individuals can volunteer to fold or unfold The Quilt, read names on the National Mall, submit their own story to The NAMES Project, and create and submit a panel. In addition, persons who have submitted a panel and would like to request its display in Washington on a specific date or location, can do so by May 25, 2012. For more information these activities and how to get involved, visit www.Quilt2012.org.

No doubt, The Quilt will continue to serve as a catalyst for change, a driver for dialogue, and a tool for healing. Those who experience it this summer will find it difficult -- if not impossible -- to walk away from it unchanged. We hope you will be part of The Quilt's call for humanity to act with compassion and resolve in the face of HIV and AIDS.

Lauren Broussard, LGSW, MPH, is a public health analyst in the Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.




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