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AIDS Memorial Quilt on campus Dec. 14-16

RELEASED: Dec. 7, 2011

AIDS Quilt

EAU CLAIRE — The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire will display the largest community art project in the world — The AIDS Memorial Quilt — Dec. 14-16. People can view the quilt from 8 a.m.-8 p.m. each day in the Council Fire Room of Davies Center.

The AIDS Memorial Quilt began with a single 3-by-6-foot panel created in San Francisco. Today, the quilt includes more than 47,000 individual 3-by-6-foot panels, each one commemorating the life of someone who has died of AIDS. The panels come from every state in the nation and every corner of the globe. Panels have been sewn by hundreds of thousands of friends, lovers and family members.

Providing an opportunity for the UW-Eau Claire and greater Eau Claire communities to experience The AIDS Memorial Quilt has been something Chris Jorgenson has wanted since becoming UW-Eau Claire's LGBTQ program coordinator.

"The AIDS Memorial Quilt remains a powerful symbol of the global impact of HIV/AIDS," Jorgenson said. "You can't adequately describe it. You have to experience it and feel it. As of 2010, 33.3 million people are living with HIV and 30 million have died from AIDS. The quilt serves as a powerful reminder that AIDS does not discriminate and neither should we."

As of Sept. 30, there are 8,711 reported cases of HIV/AIDS in Wisconsin, 82 percent of which are men, according to the AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin. In the western region, which extends from La Crosse up to Superior, there are 457 cases. Of those, 75 are in Eau Claire County, 22 in Chippewa County and 18 in Dunn County.

AIDS is often private and isolating because of the stigma and discrimination associated with the disease, but it's important that people understand just how prevalent AIDS is and how it affects many people, said Cheryl Thiede, associate director of social services for the AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin.

"It's important to know that AIDS is in every county in Wisconsin and there are people living everywhere with AIDS — in the workplace, neighbors, brothers and sisters," Thiede said. "World AIDS Day and The AIDS Memorial Quilt are great ways to raise awareness."

People coming to campus to view The AIDS Memorial Quilt can record their experience on signature quilt panels. These names, messages, thoughts and reactions will be framed and displayed at various locations on the UW-Eau Claire campus as a way of ensuring that the HIV/AIDS conversation is respected and ongoing, Jorgenson said.

The NAMES Project Foundation, an international nongovernmental organization, is the custodian of The AIDS Memorial Quilt.

The Women's and LGBTQ Resource Center, Student Senate, University Centers, Student Affairs and Affirmative Action are sponsoring the quilt event on campus.

For more information on the upcoming display, contact Chris Jorgenson at jorgencj@uwec.edu or 715-836-2693.

For more information on The NAMES Project and The AIDS Memorial Quilt, visit aidsquilt.org or call the national headquarters at 404-688-5500.

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JT/JB/DW

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