THE MOSAIC PROJECT OF SOUTH TEXAS & COASTAL BEND WELLNESS FOUNDATION TO HOST AN EXHIBITION OF THE NOBEL PRIZE NOMINATED AIDS MEMORIAL QUILT SUNDAY, DECEMBER 1—FRIDAY, DECEMBER 6November 14, 2019
Sections of the internationally celebrated AIDS Memorial Quilt – the 54-ton, handmade tapestry that stands as a memorial to more than 96,000 individuals lost to AIDS – will be on view from Sunday, December 1 to Friday, December 6, 2019, at the Coastal Bend Wellness Foundation, 2882 Holly Road, in Corpus Christi, Texas. This free exhibition of The AIDS Memorial Quilt is being hosted by the Mosaic Project of South Texas, Inc. and the Coastal Bend Wellness Foundation as part of World AIDS Day. Visitors may view the display Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
This historic visit will mark the first time since October 1997 that the AIDS Memorial Quilt has been to the Coastal Bend. “We’re excited to bring the AIDS Memorial Quilt back to the Coastal Bend including several panels that were handmade by local community members in memory of their loved ones,” said Bill Hoelscher, President of the Mosaic Project of South Texas and CEO of the Coastal Bend Wellness Foundation.
Established in 1987, The NAMES Project Foundation is the international organization that is the custodian of The AIDS Memorial Quilt. The AIDS Memorial Quilt began with a single 3 x 6-foot panel created in San Francisco in 1987. Today, The Quilt is composed of more than 49,000 individual 3 x 6-foot panels, each one commemorating the life of someone who has died of AIDS. These panels come from every state in the nation, every corner of the globe and they have been sewn by hundreds of thousands of friends, lovers and family members into this epic memorial, the largest piece of ongoing community art in the world.
Julie Rhoad, Executive Director of The NAMES Project Foundation explains, “We are thrilled to have the chance to share The AIDS Memorial Quilt with your community. These handmade blocks, created by friends and family, tell the stories of individuals who have lost their lives to AIDS. We bring you their stories in the hope of inspiring compassion, healing and personal responsibility. We thank the Mosaic Project of South Texas and the Coastal Bend Wellness Foundation for hosting this event and we invite you all out to see what wonderful art we have created together as a nation.”
“The Quilt provides a unique opportunity not just to commemorate the lives lost to AIDS but to also reach younger generations in hope of saving lives,” said Bill Hoelscher. In 2017, according to the Texas State Department of Health Services, individuals aged 15-29 accounted for 43.8% of all HIV positive diagnoses within Texas (or 1,924 of 4,391 HIV positive test results). This demonstrates the continuing need to educate today’s youth about HIV prevention.
World AIDS Day & Free, Community-Wide Events
The Quilt will be unveiled on World AIDS Day—Sunday, December 1, 2019. The evening will begin with an interfaith memorial service at 4 p.m. at St. Paul’s United Church of Christ located at 5525 Lipes Blvd. with a reception and the Quilt unveiling immediately following until 8 p.m. at the Coastal Bend Wellness Foundation located at 2882 Holly Road.
The following Saturday, December 7, 2019 will include a viewing of the Emmy-award winning HBO film “The Normal Heart” based on the Tony-Award winning screenplay by Larry Kramer about the early days of the AIDS epidemic that will include a panel discussion with local survivors and community activists at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Corpus Christi located at 6901 Holly Road. The evening will end with “A Celebration of Life” community event with entertainment beginning at 10 p.m. at the Hidden Door, located at 802 S. Staples.
HIV/AIDS in Texas and the Coastal Bend
Since 1997 when The AIDS Memorial Quilt last came to the Coastal Bend, the landscape of HIV/AIDS has changed dramatically both nationwide and locally. By 1997, the introduction of antiretroviral therapy helped reduce the AIDS death rate by 47 percent within two years. By the end of 2017, over 90,700 Texans were known to be living with HIV, representing an increase of over 18 percent within five years. The population of People Living With HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) continues to grow as patients are connected to highly effective treatments. The scourge of pediatric AIDS was practically eliminated in Texas by 2005 when only five children contracted perinatal HIV. The introduction of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) has provided another opportunity to drastically reduce HIV infection among high-risk communities.
Even still, there remain persistent areas of concern. The federal plan “Ending the HIV Epidemic” includes five Texas counties (Bexar, Dallas, Harris, Tarrant, and Travis) among its plan to target 48 counties and seven states that cumulatively account for over 50% of new HIV cases. Populations of African-American and Hispanic/Latino men who have sex with men (MSM) remain disproportionately at risk for HIV transmission. According to the Center for Disease Control, Hispanic/Latinos accounted for 26% of all new HIV diagnoses nationwide in 2017 with an increase of six percent (6%) between 2010-2016. African-Americans accounted for 43% of all new HIV diagnoses in 2017 even though this racial group only accounts for 13% of the general population. A 2019 study estimated that about 14% of all transgender women are HIV positive even though nearly two-thirds of transgender women and men have reported never being tested for HIV through a survey conducted by the CDC’s Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance System. In other words, a great deal of work remains to be done.
By bringing the AIDS Memorial Quilt back to the Coastal Bend, we hope to continue our efforts to eliminate the spread of HIV/AIDS in the Coastal Bend. For more information on HIV/AIDS in the Coastal Bend, please call Bill Hoelscher with the Coastal Bend Wellness Foundation at 361-814-2001.
Additional data from the Texas Department of Health Services may be obtained here:
PLWH (HIV prevalence): http://healthdata.dshs.texas.gov/InfectiousDisease/HIV_PLWH
The AIDS Memorial Quilt
In a war against a disease that has no cure, The AIDS Memorial Quilt has evolved as our most potent tool in the effort to educate against the lethal threat of AIDS. By revealing the humanity behind the statistics, The AIDS Memorial Quilt helps teach compassion, triumphs over taboo, stigma and phobia; and inspires individuals to take direct responsibility for their own well-being and that of their family, friends and community.
Sections are continuously on display across the country in schools, churches, community centers, businesses, corporations and a variety of other institutional settings all in the hope of making the realities of HIV and AIDS real, human and immediate. To date, more than15 million people have seen The AIDS Memorial Quilt at tens of thousands of displays throughout the world. For more information on the upcoming display in Corpus Christi, please call David Villarreal with the Mosaic Project of South Texas at 361-906-9020 or Bill Hoelscher at 361-814-2001. For more information on The NAMES Project and The AIDS Memorial Quilt, please visit aidsquilt.org or call the national headquarters at 404-688-5500.