Two Panels of the AIDS Memorial Quilt Will Come to New Orleans as World AIDS Day is Observed on Dec. 1
Access Health Louisiana (AHL) and the National AIDS Memorial are partnering together to bring two panels of the AIDS Memorial Quilt (the Quilt) to New Orleans as part of World AIDS Day observances Dec.1.
The quilt panels will be revealed following a news conference with AHL Chief Executive Officer Mark Keiser and City of New Orleans Health Director, Dr. Jennifer Avegno, on Wednesday, Dec. 1 at noon. The Quilt will be on display at City Hall immediately following the news conference through March 1, 2022.
“We are honored to work together with the National AIDS Memorial to bring the Quilt to our community this World AIDS Day and share its stories of hope, activism, healing and remembrance,” said Dr. MarkAlain Déry, AHL Medical Director of Infectious Diseases and Chief Innovation Office. “The Quilt sections on display connect the story of AIDS directly to the work we do to provide services, educate, and raise greater awareness about HIV today. The Quilt offers important reflection about the tremendous loss of life, allowing us to remember those we’ve lost, ensure their lives are never forgotten, and provide hope for the future.”
This year marks 40 years since the first cases of AIDS were reported in the United States. During the four-decade span, more than 700,000 lives have been lost in this country to HIV/AIDS. While there is still no cure for HIV, advances in treatment allow people living with HIV to live long, healthy lives. Across the United States, new HIV diagnoses are delivered every day, particularly among young people, communities of color, and southern states. In Orleans Parish, there are 5,096 known cases of persons living with HIV (EMA data from the City of New Orleans for 2020). Efforts are still needed to raise greater awareness about the story of AIDS and prevention, treatments, & resources available within the community.
“The issues our nation has faced in the past two years – a raging pandemic with hundreds of thousands of lives lost, social injustice, health inequity, stigma, bigotry and fear – are also the issues faced throughout four decades of the AIDS pandemic,” says John Cunningham, CEO of the National AIDS Memorial. “The Quilt is a powerful teaching tool that shares the story of HIV/AIDS, the lives lost, and the hope, healing, activism & remembrance that it inspires.”
In addition to the Quilt display, the Office of Health Policy and AIDS Funding will host a Wreath Laying Ceremony in Washington Square Park at the site of the HIV/AIDS monument. The ceremony will take place Wednesday, Dec. 1 at 3 p.m. to recognize those living with HIV and pay respect to those who lost their lives to AIDS-related complications.
AHL is a network of Federally Qualified Health Centers with more than 100 providers across 12 parishes in Louisiana. Dr. MarkAlain Déry specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of HIV/AIDS at the AHL Pythian Clinic in New Orleans. Earlier this year AHL partnered with NoiseFilter — an educational platform that addresses health and wellness topics through creative storytelling — and the AIDS Education Training Center to announce a new animation trilogy that conveys crucial health messaging around HIV and HIV medications. The three-part series, Undetectable, Untransmittable and Undeniably Fierce!, Get in Step with PrEP and Little Miss Muffuletta also feature community health expert Dr. Eric Griggs (Doc Griggs) and trans activist and educator, Milan Nicole Sherry.
“Our goal is to change the stigma that still remains around HIV,” says Dr. Déry. “The colorful and compelling videos use creative exploration into the human body to explain HIV medications and how they protect individuals from transmission.”
The three-part series is available for viewing on the NoiseFilter website and is intended for use by all audiences to educate about the use of HIV treatments & preventatives, and lift the voice of people of trans experience.
For more information about Access Health Louisiana and the additional services available including STI testing, telemedicine and teletherapy, visit accesshealthla.org. The Quilt was created nearly 35 years ago during the darkest days of the AIDS pandemic by gay rights activist Cleve Jones. For more information or to view the Quilt in its entirety visit aidsmemorial.org/quilt.
About Access Health Louisiana
Access Health Louisiana (AHL) is a network of Federally Qualified Health Centers. Our network sees more than 45,000 patients a year in 12 Louisiana parishes. Our mission is simple: To improve the health of the people we serve. We do this by striving for the highest levels of patient care every day. AHL has been recognized by the National Committee for Quality Assurance as a Patient-Centered Medical Home based on standards of patient safety and quality. AHL is also a 2020 recipient of a National Quality Leader Award from the Health Resources and Services Administration. As a health center quality leader, AHL achieved the best overall clinical performance among all health centers, placing in the top ten percent of the adjusted quartile rankings for Clinical Quality Measures. AHL was also recognized with a Health Disparities Reducer Award and Access Enhancer Award for increasing access to healthcare and improving health outcomes for racial and ethnic minorities. For more information about Access Health Louisiana and the additional services available including STI testing, telemedicine & teletherapy, visit accesshealthla.org
About the National AIDS Memorial Quilt
The Quilt was created nearly 35 years ago during the darkest days of the AIDS pandemic by gay rights activist Cleve Jones. While planning a march in 1985, he was devastated by the thousands of lives that had been lost to AIDS in San Francisco and asked each of his fellow marchers to write on placards the names of friends and loved ones who had died. Jones and others stood on ladders taping these placards to the walls of the San Francisco Federal Building. The wall of names looked like a patchwork quilt and inspired by this sight, Jones and friends made plans for a larger memorial. In 1987, a group of strangers began gathering in a San Francisco storefront to document the lives they feared history would neglect. Their goal was to create a memorial for those who had died of AIDS, and to thereby help people understand the devastating impact of the disease. This served as the foundation of the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt and later that year, nearly 2,000 of its panels were displayed on the National Mall in Washington, DC.
Today, the Quilt has grown to more than 50,000 panels, with more than 110,000 names stitched within its fabric. It weighs 54 tons, stretches more than 50 miles in length and is the largest community-arts project in the world. The Quilt is now part of the National AIDS Memorial, which oversees its preservation, care, storytelling programs and community displays. The Quilt can be viewed in its entirety and people can search for names on the Quilt at aidsmemorial.org/quilt.