SAN FRANCISCO, February 7, 2022
Powerful stories are shared through the virtual AIDS Memorial Quilt exhibit and stories from the AIDS Memorial Grove that raise awareness of the impact of HIV/AIDS on the Black community, then and now
SAN FRANCISCO, February 7, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — The National AIDS Memorial marks Black History Month and National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day with online programming honoring the lives of Black people affected by AIDS. A specially curated selection of stories are featured in a virtual exhibit of the AIDS Memorial Quilt and names carved into the National AIDS Memorial Grove.
Special programming, accessible free of charge to the public by visiting www.aidsmemorial.org uses the power and beauty of the quilt and the grove to shine a light on the countless black men, women and children who have died of AIDS over the 40 years of the pandemic, and the continuing impact of HIV in the black community today today.
“We hope these online programs will help raise awareness about the ongoing fight against HIV and the impact of systemic barriers on positive health outcomes, particularly in the Black community,” the CEO said. John Cunningham. “This collection of powerful stories is part of the hope, healing and remembrance that these two national treasures – the grove and the quilt – bring to our nation throughout the year.”
In the 40 years since the first cases of AIDS were reported, black Americans and communities of color have been disproportionately affected by AIDS. In 1993, HIV was the leading cause of death among black men aged 25 to 44. In 2004, HIV became the leading cause of death among black women in the same age group. In 2019, black Americans made up 42% of the nearly 38,000 new HIV diagnoses in the United States, half of whom lived in southern states.
While black people today account for a higher proportion of new HIV diagnoses and people living with HIV compared to other races and ethnicities, progress has been made, with HIV diagnoses down 8% among African Americans in general from 2015 to 2019. However, racism, HIV-related stigma, homophobia, poverty, and barriers to health care continue to fuel disparities.
the Virtual Quilt Exhibit features touching stories that include letters, news stories and photos on quilt panels made to honor Black children, women and men who have died and will be forever remembered through the quilt. Viewers can see a panel made for 2-year-old Alexzandria, which shows her photo, a teddy bear, Big Bird, and a poem written by her mother Charlene on block 2542. Another shares the panel of Belynda, an activist from Massachusetts Against AIDS which has dedicated itself to help organize black churches in the fight against AIDS on Block 5718. Other signs include those honoring black men, including several that have military uniforms sewn to honor their service on block 5976.
the Stories from the Grove features touching stories of black lives remembered in the National AIDS Memorial Grove, whose names are etched into the beautiful 10-acre space in San Francisco. Tributes include music legend Sylvester, AIDS activists Reggie Williams and Ken Jonespoet Mary Bowman, Sean Sasserhemophilia leader Val Biasand Lonnie Payne, a lifelong survivor and National AIDS Memorial board member, who shares the loss of his twin brother Lawrence to AIDS. Each story includes photos, curated stories, and videos.
“The Grove and the Quilt hold a special place in my heart. Both brought comfort to millions during the darkest days of the AIDS pandemic,” Payne said. “Today, they are important educational tools for raising awareness about HIV/AIDS, especially in black and brown communities where infection rates continue to be disproportionate.”
National AIDS Memorial Black History Month programming partners include Gilead Sciences and Vivent Health, national leaders in the fight against AIDS. Online resources coincide with National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day #NBHAAD taking place February 7 every year. Learn more about www.aidsmemorial.org.
SOURCE National AIDS Memorial