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Living in the Age of AIDS

To date, more than twenty million individuals around the world have attended displays and witnessed the extraordinary power, beauty, love, rage, and sorrow expressed through The AIDS Memorial Quilt. The Quilt provides poignant and compelling evidence that HIV and AIDS can happen to anyone, anywhere, at any age. By revealing the humanity behind the statistics, The Quilt helps teach compassion; overcome stigma, phobia, and taboo; and inspire individuals to take direct responsibility for their own well-being and that of their family, friends, and community.

Everyone lives with HIV/AIDS. While HIV-positive individuals face the health challenges and social stigmatization of the disease, it impacts everyone. Whether or not one is infected, all are affected. Fortunately, as education, scientific research, and medication advance, much of the conversation surrounding HIV/AIDS has shifted to living with HIV and accessing treatment and care rather than dying from AIDS.

“I am a biochemist involved in AIDS-related viral research, as well as a mother. I have dedicated my Quilt squares to all the AIDS babies. I made this panel from diapers and receiving blankets that were my own infant son’s. He is completely healthy–for which I am both thankful and slightly guilt-ridden. So many babies are not. Science moves slowly. Patience is a necessity. But please, know that we are doing the best that we can.”

“My husband was always known as the Frog Prince. That is because he played the part in a play when he was a little boy living in the orphanage, and he never forgot his wonderful costume with the frog head that came off to reveal the Prince Charming within. And when I married him in Tilden Park in 1989—with my knowing full well that he was infected with the AIDS virus—he proclaimed to all at the reception that I had found an ugly, depressed, old toad, kissed him, and changed him once again into a handsome prince. Inside my wedding ring he had engraved the Latin phrase, ‘Te amo, Ranus Princeps,’ which could be translated as ‘I love you, the Frog Prince.’ In the last year of his illness, he saw a newspaper article about the mysterious ecological disaster that is presently killing off entire species of amphibians around the world. The headline on that story was, ‘The Frogs are Croaking,’ and he laughed and said, ‘I guess they know about me, too.’”

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