AIDS Quilt Bound for Mason Campus on World AIDS Day

Mason will welcome speakers, entertainers, displays, films, and works of art concerning AIDS

by Communication Department, Edited by CHSS Staff

AIDS Quilt Bound for Mason Campus on World AIDS Day

George Mason University (Mason) will commemorate World AIDS Day by bringing more than 100 blocks of the AIDS Memorial Quilt to the Fairfax campus’s Dewberry Hall on Dec. 1, 2009.

This event will be open to the public and is expected to be the largest display of the quilt on the east coast. Dewberry Hall is located inside Mason’s Johnson Center.

“Our intent is to raise awareness among our students and the greater community, as well as to demonstrate the university's commitment to this critical social and worldwide health issue,” said Dr. Gary L. Kreps, chair of Mason’s Department of Communication and Director of the Center for Health and Risk Communication. “At the same time, we also recognize the solemnity of this day and will pay tribute to the thousands who have died from AIDS.”

In addition to displaying the quilt, Mason will welcome speakers, entertainers, displays, films, and works of art concerning AIDS. Speakers for the Mason AIDS Quilt event include well-known AIDS advocates Hydeia Broadbent and Big Tigger, as well as scientists, public health experts, AIDS survivors, and community advocates.  

AIDS-related panel discussions, films, art, and exhibits will be presented beginning at 10 a.m. at Dewberry Hall in the Johnson Center and will run until 4 p.m.

Community groups planning to participate in the event include the INOVA Juniper Program, the National Minority AIDS Council, the National Association for People Living With AIDS, the National Institutes of Health, the Entertainment Industries Council, the Metro D.C. Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, the Northern Virginia AIDS Ministry, the Sexual Minority Youth Assistance League, the Human Rights Campaign, Equality Virginia, the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation and the Fairfax County Health Literacy Initiative.

This event is part of a larger annual university program, HIV Awareness Week, sponsored by Mason’s Office of Alcohol, Drug and Health Education.

Many academic and research programs at George Mason University focus on HIV/AIDS prevention and support, including the Center for Health and Risk Communication and graduate programs in health and strategic communication.

“We are also drawn to this issue as one of the most diverse universities in the country and because we are part of the greater Washington, D.C., area,” Kreps said. “Washington has one of the highest rates of HIV/AIDS incidence and mortality in the county.”

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, on average, every 9½ minutes, someone in the United States is infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. In 2006, an estimated 56,300 people became infected with HIV and today more than 1 million people in the United States are living with HIV.

World AIDS Day, observed globally on December 1 every year, is dedicated to raising awareness of AIDS. Since 1995, World AIDS Day has been recognized by the President of the United States for observance.

The AIDS Memorial Quilt, which is maintained by The NAMES Project Foundation, Inc., includes more than 47,000 panels dedicated to more than 91,000 individuals. Each "block" (or section) of The AIDS Memorial Quilt measures approximately 12 square feet and a typical block consists of eight individual three foot by six foot panels sewn together.

The event is one of many that take place at Mason, a university that prides itself on its diversity and commitment to exploring social issues.

Named the No. 1 national university to watch in the 2009 rankings of U.S. News & World Report, George Mason University is a diverse innovative, entrepreneurial institution with global distinction in a range of academic fields. Located in Northern Virginia near Washington, D.C., Mason provides students access to diverse cultural experiences and the most sought-after internships and employers in the country.  Mason offers strong undergraduate and graduate degree programs in communication, engineering and information technology, organizational psychology, health care and visual and performing arts. With Mason professors conducting groundbreaking research in areas such as climate change, informatics, public policy and the biosciences, George Mason University is a leading example of the modern, public university.