The AIDS Memorial Quilt is the project of the San Francisco-based NAMES Project Foundation. The foundation and Quilt were started in 1987 by gay rights activist Cleve Jones and a group of volunteers who created the Quilt as a tribute to friends and loved ones who had succumbed to AIDS.
The Quilt was first displayed to the public later that year on the Capitol Mall. At that time, there were 1,920 panels and the Quilt was a little larger than a football field. Today, the Quilt consists of over 43,000 panels and covers over 16 football fields.
The AIDS Memorial Quilt serves both as a symbol of remembrance and healing and as a tool to raise public awareness of AIDS in an effort to help bring an end to the epidemic. The most recent statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate that AIDS is the second leading cause of death among Americans ages 25-44 and that 1 in 300 Americans is infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has proclaimed AIDS the world's fastest-spreading epidemic and estimates that by the year 2000, the cumulative total of HIV infections in men, women and children around the world will be 30-40 million. Women will account for half the infections and 90 percent of all HIV infections will occur in developing countries.
The Quilt display at Hamilton has been coordinated with the Syracuse NAMES Project chapter. There are 48 NAMES Project chapters in the United States, each working in its community to encourage HIV-prevention education, facilitate panel making and to raise money for local AIDS organizations.
In 1989, the Quilt was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. In that same year, Common Threads: Stories From the Quilt won the Academy Award as the best feature length documentary film.
Please contact Jean Baiardi at 859-0127 for further details.