Category Archives: news

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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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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Advances in quest for HIV vaccine

While there is no cure or vaccine for AIDS, scientists have been working for years to find one. Recently, scientists discovered antibodies (proteins in body fluids that detect and respond to various pathogens) that neutralize 91% of HIV strains, which is a higher percentage than any previous antibodies found.

Antibodies are integral to the creation and effectiveness of vaccines. For more about how vaccines work, see Discovery Health’s How Vaccines Work.

Following is a news report from The Body about the recent discovery:

Scientists have discovered two potent human antibodies that can stop more than 90 percent of known global HIV strains from infecting human cells in the laboratory, and have demonstrated how one of these disease-fighting proteins accomplishes this feat. According to the scientists, these antibodies could be used to design improved HIV vaccines, or could be further developed to prevent or treat HIV infection. Moreover, the method used to find these antibodies could be applied to isolate therapeutic antibodies for other infectious diseases as well.

“The discovery of these exceptionally broadly neutralizing antibodies to HIV and the structural analysis that explains how they work are exciting advances that will accelerate our efforts to find a preventive HIV vaccine for global use,” says Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), National Institutes of Health. “In addition, the technique the teams used to find the new antibodies represents a novel strategy that could be applied to vaccine design for many other infectious diseases.”

Article continues here.

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