November 26, 2002
Angry at the Bush administration's response to the worldwide AIDS epidemic, the founder of the AIDS Quilt plans to bring it back to Washington to call new attention to the disease. The quilt was last in the nation's capital in 1996, but activist Cleve Jones is hoping to bring it back on Columbus Day weekend in 2004. "I'm frightened and I'm angry and I'm going to do everything in my power to get the president and Congress to focus on this issue and take action," said Jones.
"America is obliged to take leadership in fighting AIDS, not only at home but across the globe," Jones said during an appearance with a portion of the quilt in Keene, N.H. "2004 is going to be a crucial year" he said. "We want AIDS and health care to be on the agenda that year."
Jones noted that the UN has said $10 billion a year is needed for treatment, prevention and research, as well as to care for AIDS orphans. Bush and Congress have appropriated only $500 million, he said, "a pathetic amount." "I think the American government should commit at least $2 billion a year to the global fund," he said. "For the world's most powerful nation to shirk its responsibility on this issue is outrageous."
The quilt was first displayed in Washington with 1,920 panels -- each commemorating the life of someone who had died of the disease. By 1989, the quilt had grown to 16,000 panels. Today, there are more than 80,000 panels, Jones said.