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The National AIDS Memorial Quilt
The organization behind the quilt offers detailed information on HIV throughout the country. Photo: Newswire.

The National AIDS Memorial Quilt travels to Memphis to raise awareness about HIV in its Black and Brown communities

The arrival of the quilt is part of the launch of the Change the Pattern campaign in the city.

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Dish It Up 2023

May 24th, 2023

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As part of the Change the Pattern campaign coming to Memphis, which seeks to raise awareness about HIV in Black and Brown communities in the city, the National AIDS Memorial Quilt will also be traveling to the city to help boost the effort. Memphis is currently one of the cities with the highest rates of HIV in the nation.

The National AIDS Memorial Quilt, which honors Black and Latino lives lost to HIV, has traveled to several southern states as part of Change the Pattern, can be viewed between March 29 and April 1 as part of a series of exhibitions that also include quilt workshops, educational forums and events for students.

Jada Harris, program manager at National AIDS Memorial, noted:

According to research from AIDSVu, nearly 71% of AIDS cases in 2020 were men, while roughly 30% were women.

AIDS, standing for Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome, is caused by HIV, and is the late stage of the virus.

The exhibitions in Memphis are organized by the National AIDS Memorial, Southern AIDS Coalition (SAC), and Gilead Sciences, entities that are working to 'change the pattern' of HIV in Memphis.

Knowledge as strategy

Visitors to the Quilt will see hand-sewn panels honoring Black and Latino individuals who've lost their lives to HIV. Many of the panels were made by Memphis and Tennessee residents to honor and celebrate the stories of their friends and loved ones.

Through free educational forums, movie nights, among other activities, health information will help spark conversations to empower the fight to end HIV in Memphis.

“In 2020, more than 600 Tennesseans were newly diagnosed with HIV. Nearly 60% of these diagnoses were among individuals who identify as Black. Even with that, the state is rejecting more than $8 million that supports HIV prevention funding! The numbers show it is still critical to bring awareness to this cause. Through Change the Pattern, we want to help communities move the needle, and do our part to help eradicate stigma and end new HIV cases all together,” said Dafina Ward, executive director of SAC.

Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, North Carolina, and Tennessee are among the 15 U.S. states with the highest rates of HIV in the country.

Among some of the reasons that perpetuate this situation are racism, sitgma surrounding HIV, homophobia, poverty and barriers to medical care.

The fastest growing rates of HIV in the South are among Black women, Black and Latino gay and bisexual men, and Black and Latina transgender women.

For more information about the Quilt's locations, event times, and special programming, click here.

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