Category Archives: activism

AIDS Walk recap

It’s been awhile, but the CAAG of South-Central Indiana is still going strong! One of our biggest annual events, Bloomington AIDS Walk, happened in April. With so many different walks for so many different causes, it’s important to remember why AIDS Walk still holds so much significant in our community. We interviewed Larisa Niles-Carnes, a health educator with IU Health’s Positive Link, to get a better understanding of why we walk.

IU Health's Positive Link staff gearing up for the walk

Q: In addition to raising money for HIV/AIDS education and care, what is the importance of having an actual walk?

A: The importance of the walk is to raise awarness about and bring attention to the disease.  People often become complacent about things if they aren’t reminded regularly, and by having a walk, we are able to show that this is still relevant and something that still affects people daily.  It’s also a chance to pay tribute to the lives lost from the disease, but also a chance to celebrate the people who are fighting the disease, to give them support, and to show them that there are people who care about them.

"Even with HIV, I am undefeated."

Q: What kind of people and organizations were represented at the event?

A: We had the largest turn out in years, despite the cold weather.  We had a variety of students, community organizations, and supporters show up for the walk.  The Monroe County Health Department, Planned Parenthood of Indiana, IU Health’s Positive Link, Illumenate, IUSA, and the Marion County Health Department were the organizations represented.  Anyone is welcome to come, whether you know someone who has been affected by HIV or you just believe in supporting education and prevention of the deadly disease.

Walking up Kirkwood Ave.

Walking up Kirkwood Ave.

Q: For the readers familiar with Bloomington, can you tell us about the walk route?

A: Our walk started at Dunn Meadow, up to the Sample Gates, down to College Avenue, down Seventh Street to Showalter Fountain, and then back to Dunn Meadow.  I think it’s a great route because we are able to walk down Kirkwood, past people eating outside, and past the library where people stand. There were a lot of students outside that morning, so it was a chance to speak to them as we were walking.  This year, the clients and some Positive Link staff made signs that were very well received. It was an opportunity to show why we were walking and to answer questions.

Walkers hold the AIDS Walk sign at Showalter Fountain on IU's campus.

Q: For those who have never attended an AIDS Walk, can you give us 3 reasons why they should consider attending next year?

A:

  1. To support members in the community that are infected.  The disease has so much stigma associated with the disease, so it’s nice for clients to see that people do support them and are there to help fight the disease with them.
  2. To raise awareness that the disease is still prevalent.  It may not be considered a death disease anymore, but there are still many hurdles that someone with HIV might face. To have the awareness in the community, it might help influence individuals to practice safer behaviors.
  3. To raise money.  Money raised at the walk directly helps patients and provides resources to reduce the incidence and prevalence of this disease.  This is extremely important now as the funding for prevention is being cut more and more each year.

Thanks, Larisa, for all of your thoughts and information! If you have any questions about the AIDS Walk or any other HIV/AIDS-related programming and education in south-central Indiana, don’t hesitate to contact us at communityaidsactiongroup@gmail.com.

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The photo that brought AIDS home

In honor of World AIDS Day, CNN Health featured a slideshow of photos that held great significance for the history of AIDS in America. The featured photo was of AIDS victim David Kirby in his final moments, surrounded by family.

The photo was taken in November of 1990 by Therese Frare, who was a graduate student at the time.

While photos such as this one are often difficult to see, it is important to represent the history of HIV/AIDS through many mediums. This photo helped bring compassion and understanding to the AIDS epidemic during a time when people with AIDS were stigmatized and even ignored.

To view the entire slideshow, visit CNN Health.

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AIDS Memorial Quilt display in Bloomington

The AIDS Memorial Quilt is almost here!!

Sections of the internationally celebrated AIDS Memorial Quilt – a 54-ton, handmade tapestry commemorating more than 91,000 lives lost to AIDS – will be on display November 11-15 at Alumni Hall in the Indiana University Indiana Memorial Union, Bloomington. The 520-panel exhibit will be the largest AIDS Memorial Quilt display in Indiana history. Related events include performances by Kaia, the Bloomington Peace Choir, Voces Novae, Quarryland Men’s Chorus, and the African American Choral Ensemble; multiple screenings of Common Threads, a documentary about the Quilt; community quilting bees; and closing remarks from Mayor Kruzan. All events are free and open to the public.

The exhibit will be open during the following hours:

Thursday, November 11, 6pm – 9:30pm; opening ceremony at 6pm
Friday, November 12, 10am – 9pm
Saturday, November 13, 10am – 9pm
Sunday, November 14, 11am – 7pm
Monday, November 15, 10am – 4pm; closing ceremony at 4pm

Presented by the Community AIDS Action Group (CAAG) of South Central Indiana, The Names Project, and Union Board.

History and significance of the AIDS Memorial Quilt

The AIDS Memorial Quilt began with a single panel created in San Francisco in 1987. The Quilt is now composed of more than 47,000 panels, each one commemorating the life of someone who has died from an AIDS-related illness. These panels come from every state in the nation and every corner of the globe, and have been sewn by friends, lovers, and family members into this epic memorial – the largest piece of ongoing community art in the world.

In a war against a disease that has no cure, the AIDS Memorial Quilt helps make HIV and AIDS issues real, human, and immediate. By revealing the humanity behind the statistics, the Quilt helps teach compassion, overcomes taboo, battles stigmas and phobias, and inspires individuals to take direct responsibility for their own well-being and that of their family, friends, and community.

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National Coming Out day

Scene from first National Coming Out day

Today, October 11th, is National Coming Out day, celebrated by thousands of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. They hold workshops, speak-outs, rallies and other kinds of events all aimed at showing the public that LGBT people are everywhere.

This year’s focus is on marriage equality. Only five states and the District of Columbia issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples – Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, New Hampshire, Vermont and D.C. For more information, see the Human Rights Campaign’s Marriage & Relationship Recognition page.

Not many people know that National Coming Out day originated on the date of the first display of the AIDS Memorial Quilt — October 11th, 1987. The National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights was also happening on that day, purposely coinciding with the display of the Quilt on the National Mall in Washington.

While HIV and AIDS affect people of all ages, races, sexual orientation, and socio-economic status, prevalence is still disproportionately high among gay men. On National Coming Out day, let’s reflect upon the history of HIV/AIDS in the United States, and have the courage to discuss sexuality and sexual health freely and openly.

For more history on National Coming Out day, visit the Human Rights Campaign website.

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Call-out from the 2010 United States Conference on AIDS

Every 9.5 minutes, someone in America is infected with HIV.

HIV may not make the headlines like it used to, but it’s still a serious, incurable illness. Far too many people are getting infected and far too few are getting care and treatment.

Every year, over 2,500 people from all fronts of the HIV epidemic gather to reconnect and recommit. What’s our next move– to mobilize and address the challenges of HIV.

It’s time to move. What’s your move?

One person can take medications as prescribed
I test, I treat
One person can get clean and sober
Una persona puede enseñarle a otra persona
One person can treat another
Two people can use a condom
One person can speak for those who have no voice
One person is not alone
One person can break down stigma and discrimination
One person can teach their children
One person can advocate for a friend
One person can live joyfully with HIV
All of us, with your help, can change the course of this epidemic.

Talk with your healthcare provider about the risks and benefits of starting HIV medicines. Did you know that 1 in 5 people who have HIV in this country don’t know they have it? Too many people who are HIV+ are not in care.

Even today, far too many people are showing up late in their disease process when they are already sick.

Take it to the streets where you live, work, and play.

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Letter to the editor (Herald Times)

AIDS Memorial QuiltWe recently hosted booths at local Pride festivals, and spoke with many people whose lives were affected by HIV/AIDS. We were so moved by their stories that we decided to write a letter to the editor at the Herald Times. It was published on August 2nd.

HIV and AIDS awareness

To the editor:

The AIDS Memorial Quilt is coming to Bloomington this November and we were recently reminded why the quilt has been, and continues to be, poignant for the local community.

While staffing a booth for the Community AIDS Action Group at several area fairs, we heard many stories about how HIV affects Indiana residents. One man walked us through memories of watching friends die from HIV/AIDS in the 1980s. A young woman asked about displaying her uncle’s memorial square. Some asked how to make a quilt square for loved ones who died from AIDS-related illnesses. Others told us they had friends in Indiana who have been HIV-positive for many years and are otherwise strong and healthy.

We live in a time when anti-retroviral drugs can extend and improve the lives of HIV-positive individuals. More people know how HIV is spread and how to protect themselves. HIV-related topics don’t often make headline news, so many Hoosiers don’t see HIV as a problem. We encourage Indiana residents to realize the importance of HIV and AIDS awareness, as quilt panels are being added every day. Hopefully, the AIDS Memorial Quilt will soon stop increasing in size and become a relic of a cured disease.

Anna Saraceno and Bethany Lister

Bloomington

The writers are members of the AIDS Memorial Quilt planning committee.

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HIV through the years

CNN Health recently featured a story about the experiences of three different men with HIV in the United States. While HIV is seen much differently in the U.S. now than it was in the 80’s, it is still important to be aware of how HIV and AIDS affect our own communities.

See the article here.

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