CU, Northwest Rural AIDS Alliance bring Memorial Quilt to campus

December 2, 2019

Clarion University and Northwest Pennsylvania Rural AIDS Alliance will mark World AIDS Day by displaying a panel of the AIDS Memorial Quilt from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 9 in the Gemmell rotunda.

Emily Crofoot, supervisor of high-impact prevention for the NW Alliance, a division of Clarion University, will be on hand throughout the day to talk about the quilt and provide information about HIV and AIDS.

"The purpose of the quilt is to honor those who have passed away from HIV/AIDS, to educate the community and reduce the stigma of the disease," Crofoot said.

According to the National AIDS Memorial website, 32 years ago during the height of the AIDS epidemic, a group of strangers gathered at a San Francisco storefront to remember the names and lives of their loved ones they feared history would forget. With that seemingly simple act of love, the first panels of the quilt were created. It consists of more than 50,000 individual 3-by-6-foot memorial panels commemorating more than 105,000 lives lost to AIDS. It continues to grow.

HIV/AIDS used to be known as the "gay man disease," but any woman or man, heterosexual, homosexual, transgender, youth or aging individual can contract HIV, Crofoot said. With the increase in drug use and sharing of needles, HIV has shown a slight increase. In certain demographics, HIV has also shown a slight decrease each of the past five years because people are getting tested and treated. Statistics show the disease is growing most rapidly among African American youth, men who have sex with men, and IV drug users.

"Education on the disease, prevention methods and the importance of getting tested is the current message the prevention team is sharing," Crofoot said. "We use the quilt at different organizations, schools and community events to answer questions and provide facts about HIV/AIDS. It is no longer a death sentence; with medication, those infected with HIV/AIDS are living long, healthy lives."

NW Alliance, which serves people living with HIV and those co-infected with HIV and the hepatitis C virus, works in unison with communities of northwest Pennsylvania to improve and protect the health of those struggling with HIV/AIDS. Services include medical case management, specialty clinics/care, patient care services and high-impact prevention.

With the NW Alliance, co-sponsors of Clarion's World AIDS Day event are the Presidential Commission on LGBTQ+ Concerns, the Department of Student Engagement and Development, the Office of Social Equity and ALLIES student organization.

Last Updated 3/13/20