The National AIDS Memorial will mark the 35th anniversary of the AIDS Memorial Quilt with an historic outdoor display in Golden Gate Park that will feature nearly 3,000 hand-stitched panels of the Quilt.
The free public event will take place on June 11-12 at 10 a.m.-5 p.m. PT each day in Robin Williams Meadow and in the National AIDS Memorial Grove. Expected to draw thousands of people, the display will be the largest display of the Quilt in over a decade and the largest-ever in San Francisco history.
"This year's historic community display will be a beautiful celebration of life and a recognition of the power of the Quilt today as a teaching tool for health and social justice," said National AIDS Memorial CEO John Cunningham in a statement. "The Quilt is an important reminder that the HIV/AIDS crisis is still not over and there is much work to be done, particularly in communities of color, where HIV is on the rise in many parts of the country."
The two-day 35th-anniversary event, presented by Gilead Sciences, will feature 350 12'x12' blocks of the Quilt laid out on the ground, each consisting of eight 3'x 6' individually sewn panels that honor and remember the names and stories of loved ones lost to AIDS. Visitors will be able to walk through the display to experience each panel, remember the names, and see first-hand the stories sewn into each of them. Featured Quilt blocks will include many of the original panels made during the darkest days of the pandemic and panels made in recent years, a solemn reminder that the AIDS crisis is still not over.
More than 100 new panels will be seen for the first time at the San Francisco display. Many of them were made through the Memorial's "Call My Name" panel-making program, which helps raise greater awareness about the impact of HIV/AIDS in communities of color, particularly in the South, where HIV rates are on the rise today.
According to the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, while new HIV infections in the U.S. fell about 8% from 2015 to 2019, Black and Latino communitiesparticularly gay and bisexual men within those groupscontinue to be disproportionately affected. In 2019, 26% of new HIV infections were among Black gay and bisexual men, 23% among Latino gay and bisexual men, and 45% among gay and bisexual men under the age of 35. African American and Hispanics/Latinos account for the largest increases in new HIV diagnoses, 42% and 27% respectively. Disparities also persist among women. Black women's HIV infection rate is 11 times that of white women and four times that of Latina women. Racism, HIV stigma, homophobia, poverty and barriers to health care continue to drive these disparities.
The first panels of the Quilt were created in June of 1987 when a group of strangers, led by gay rights activist Cleve Jones, gathered in a San Francisco storefront to document the lives they feared history would forget. This meeting of devoted friends, lovers and activists would serve as the foundation for The NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt. Each panel was the size of a human grave and they saw the Quilt as an activist tool to push the government into taking action to end the epidemic.
A special web page at www.AIDSMemorial.org has been created for the public to plan their visit to see the display that will be updated regularly with the latest details and information about this historic event.