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Appalachian’s LGBT Center hosts weeklong exhibit to observe World AIDS

Panel from National AIDS Quilt will be centerpiece of exhibit dedicated to HIV education; opening ceremony is Nov. 28 at 7 p.m. in the Solarium at Plemmons Student Union

BOONE – The LGBT Center at Appalachian State University will host a weeklong exhibit for World AIDS Day from Nov. 28 through Dec. 2 in the Multicultural Center in Plemmons Student Union.

A 12-by-12 panel from the National AIDS Quilt is the centerpiece of the exhibit which also features information on HIV/AIDS and its impact in countries around the world.  The panel chosen for display at Appalachian includes a tribute to Dr. O. Mell Busbin, a 1963 graduate of Appalachian and a former faculty member at Appalachian.

The exhibit is free and open to the public.

An opening ceremony for the exhibit will be held on Monday, Nov. 28, at 7 p.m. in the Solarium of Plemmons Student Union. The ceremony will feature Dr. Pat Geiger of M.S. Shook Student Health Services on campus; Rev. Melanie Childers, director of pastoral care at Watauga Medical Center; and international students from South Africa and India.

The event’s student organizing committee, led by sophomore Matthew Coons, will read a selection of letters from “A Promise to Remember: The Names Project Book of Letters.” The public is invited to attend.

Coons said, “Our work on this event has truly been a learning experience for everyone involved.  We hope to reach students and members of the community with an exhibit that offers a history of HIV/AIDS in this country, as well as the impact of the virus around the world.”

World AIDS Day is held on Dec. 1 each year and provides an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV, and to commemorate people who have died. World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day, and the first one was held in 1988.

The theme for World AIDS Day 2011 is “Getting to Zero by 2015.” After 30 years of the fight against HIV/AIDS, this year the global community has committed to focusing on achieving three targets:  zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination, and zero AIDS-related deaths. In 2009, there were 2.6 million new HIV infections and 1.8 million people died from AIDS. Moreover, in 2011 people living with HIV were still subject to restrictions on their travel and/or stay in 47 countries, territories and areas. World AIDS Day provides an opportunity for all—individuals, communities, and political leaders—to take on the challenge of getting to zero.

The National AIDS Quilt began as a fabric patchwork bearing the names of people lost to AIDS in the spring of 1987.  The memory of loved ones lost to AIDS would be honored in 3-by-6 cloth panels.  The quilt was displayed for the first time Oct. 11, 1987, on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.  It contained 1,920 panels.  One year later, in its return to the nation’s capital, it had grown to 8,288 panels and, in its 1989 display in Washington, the quilt contained 11,000 panels.

The quilt has been seen in more than 30 nations around the world. It was last displayed in its entirety in 1996 when it spanned the entire length of the National Mall.  It is estimated that more than 18 million people have seen the quilt which now contains more than 40,000 panels.