The Largest Display of the AIDS Memorial Quilt Ever in Alabama to Feature a Special Panel Created by Civil Rights Icon, Rosa Parks
MONTGOMERY, Ala., Dec. 1, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Just in time for "World AIDS Day," the National AIDS Memorial (NAM), Southern AIDS Coalition (SAC), and Gilead Sciences, are working to 'change the pattern,' in Alabama with the largest display of the AIDS Memorial Quilt ever in the state. A major feature will be a panel created by legendary civil rights icon Rosa Parks, as well as newly made panels honoring Alabamians lost to AIDS. The Quilt display and community activities take place Nov. 30 - Dec. 4 in Montgomery, Selma, Birmingham, and other cities.
Change the Pattern (CTP) is a call to action to end HIV in Black, Brown, and LGBTQ+ communities across the South. The five-day, 70-section Quilt displays include quilting workshops, educational forums, and events coinciding with "World AIDS Day." All events are free to the public with details available at changethepattern.org.
"Black and Brown communities in the South are facing the highest number of new HIV cases in the U.S. In an effort to 'change the pattern' we are encouraging people to come see the Quilt, participate in free quilt-making workshops, and get screened or tested in an effort to end this epidemic," said Jada Harris, program manager at National AIDS Memorial. "Rosa Parks participated in creating a portion of the Quilt in 1989 to honor a friend who lost their life to AIDS and to raise awareness of how HIV was affecting the Black community back then. Once again, the Quilt is bringing awareness to a new generation of people."
Visitors will see hand-stitched panels of the AIDS Memorial Quilt, many of which honor and celebrate Alabamians lost to AIDS. They will learn about the powerful stories sharing the love, remembrance, pain, and celebration sewn into each Quilt panel of lives lost from within the Black, Latinx, Indigenous, Transgender, and other marginalized communities. Newly crafted Quilt panels will also be displayed to introduce the importance of the Quilt to a new generation, while spreading awareness of how HIV affects lives across the South.
"Bringing the Quilt to Alabama allows us to shine a light on the systemic struggles communities of color face, not just in the fight to end HIV, but the health and social justice issues that for too long have been ignored," said Dafina Ward, executive director, Southern AIDS Coalition. "By bringing the community together, providing support for each other, and raising awareness through advocacy, we will change the pattern."
In addition to the Quilt displays, NAM and SAC have worked together with local community partners to host free educational forums, events, and quilt panel-making workshops throughout the week discussing topics like safe sex, health disparities, rising HIV diagnoses, and the stigma persisting today in the long struggle for health and social justice in the South. For details about free community activities open to the public, visit www.changethepattern.org.
Statistics show the importance of the CTP initiative in the Southern U.S. In 2020, the South comprised 38 percent of the U.S. population but represented over half (52 percent) of new HIV diagnoses.
The disproportionate burden of HIV in the South is among certain populations, such as Black women, Black and Latinx gay, and bisexual men, and Black and Latinx transgender women. Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, South Carolina, Alabama, North Carolina, and Tennessee rank in the top 15 states with the highest rates of HIV in the country. Racism, HIV stigma, homophobia, poverty, and barriers to health care continue to drive these disparities.
"Gilead is so proud to support this innovative program that is bringing sections of the Quilt to Alabama and throughout the South as a powerful teaching tool and connector to raise greater awareness and help change these statistics," said Dr. Shanell McGoy, senior director of Corporate Giving at Gilead Sciences. "To end the HIV/AIDS epidemic, we must continue to examine new ways to reach and actively engage communities that continue to be disproportionately impacted by HIV."
"Gilead is so proud to support this innovative program that is bringing sections of the Quilt to Alabama and throughout the U.S. South as a powerful teaching tool and connector to raise greater awareness and help change these statistics," said Dr. Shanell McGoy, senior director of Corporate Giving at Gilead Sciences. "To help end the HIV/AIDS epidemic, we must continue to examine new ways to reach and actively engage communities that continue to be disproportionately impacted by HIV."
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