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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Conquering your fear of getting an HIV test

Conquer your HIV testing fears!The thought of getting an HIV test can be incredibly scary. Why? It’s simple: You fear the test results will come back positive.

Getting tested for HIV can be a very emotional and anxiety-inducing process. However, the benefits of going through it are priceless.

Many people feel incredibly relieved when they get a negative result, since they no longer have to worry about their status. (Note: If you are sexually active, it is important to continually and correctly use protection, as well as get tested every 6-12 months. Just because an HIV test comes back negative doesn’t mean you can’t still contract the virus if you participate in risky behavior).

For those who get a positive result, the benefits are a little less apparent. Nobody can predict what it may feel like to be told that they’ve tested positive for HIV, no matter how hard they try to imagine the scenario. Furthermore, every person who is diagnosed with HIV processes the news differently. Emotions can include any combination of sadness, anger, regret, questioning, and even numbness.

However, it is important to remember that an HIV diagnosis is not a death sentence. This is why getting tested regularly is vital; if HIV  is diagnosed near the time of infection, it means you can more quickly work with your doctor to get on meds to help you live a longer, happier, healthier life. You can also get educated about  lifestyle changes you can make, to both prevent the spread of HIV and to also help you stay healthy.

Following are articles that include personal accounts of going through HIV tests. One article highlights a person with negative results, and the other discusses personal accounts of receiving an HIV diagnosis:

Put an End to Your Fears, Stop Googling, and Go Get Tested (Jay S., thebody.com)

Now, the feeling I had at that moment, it was as if I had taken all of those fears that I had carried on my shoulders for years and simply released them.  Leaving that office, holding my girlfriend’s hand, was one of the greatest feelings in my life. Life was renewed. I could start thinking about my future. It was incredible.


Learning you are HIV positive (avert.org)

I remember driving to the hospital thinking to myself, it’s going to be negative. I was quite sure it was going to be negative. But it wasn’t. “I’m sorry to say it has come back positive” the nurse said. Then the surprising thing happened, I didn’t fall apart. For so long I had thought about what I would do if I became HIV+, and in those thoughts it was always the same, that I wouldn’t cope. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t over the moon about the result but I didn’t break down. I just decided to deal with it.

So there you have it. If you’re at risk for HIV, get tested regularly. Most places can do a simple mouth swab and have your results ready in 20 minutes. For HIV testing in Bloomington, IN, or for a referral to a nearby testing site in your Indiana location, contact Blomington Hospital’s Positive Link.

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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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Is It 1990 Again?

From change.org:

Is It 1990 Again? HIV/AIDS Myths are Alive and … Scary

by Elizabeth Lombino

“Don’t drink from the same glass of an AIDS patient.” “AIDS may be able to spread by coughing or sneezing.” “Having AIDS means you’re dead in 5 years.” “AIDS meds can kill you quicker than AIDS.” “You can tell someone has AIDS just by looking at them.” “I can’t get AIDS – it only happens to ‘those people.'”
These are examples of statements and myths that were made back during the early years of the AIDS epidemic.  The statements are also reflective of the derogatory language used during that time. No one would say these statements or use this language now, right? Wrong. Myths like these continue to spread quicker than HIV itself. This is a very scary scenario.

Continue the article here.

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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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