“Every 9.5 minutes, another American contracts HIV, the virus that causes AIDS,” Tracy Matisak of WHYY’s Radio Times said in a broadcast on July 28.
As the program continued, she shared the statistics of people infected with HIV/AIDS in Philadelphia. It is five times the national average and 1.5 times greater than New York City.
These statistics greatly alarmed Dr. Joseph Modica, University Chaplain, when he listened to the program last summer. He said there is “something we ought to be doing,” especially because Philadelphia, a city so greatly affected by the disease, is “in our backyard.”
Dr. Modica explains that raising awareness of HIV/AIDS in the U.S. and globally is something that has been widely discussed over the years at Eastern.
This semester, the university will finally bring that vision into reality. Dec. 1 is World AIDS Day, and Eastern will be displaying a 12 feet by 12 feet portion of the AIDS Memorial Quilt.
The AIDS Memorial Quilt began in 1987 by the NAMES Project Foundation in an effort to raise awareness, promote prevention of the disease and to remember loved ones whose lives were lost because of it.
Today, more than 44,000 friends and families affected by AIDS have contributed 3ft. x 6ft. panels to what according to Quilt’s web site, “remains the largest community art project in the world.”
A display will be arranged with the quilt, explaining its meaning. A prayer journal will also be included where students can express how they have been affected by AIDS, whether personally, in their family or through a friend.
“You don’t know until you talk about it how many people have been affected – personally, globally, in one way or another,” said Janet Topper, RN, Director of the Eastern University Health Center.
Eastern’s Office of Faith & Practice, Office of the Provost, Health Center, Nursing Department and Student Activities Board are sponsoring the event. The Quilt will remain at Eastern from Dec. 1-8, and is scheduled to be first in McInnis Hall before being moved to Warner Library and the Eagle Learning Center.
There will also be a candlelight prayer vigil on Dec. 1 at 4 p.m. in McInnis Hall, as well as a baked goods sale benefitting Calcutta House.
The Quilt “fits the university’s mission in regards to justice,” Dr. Modica said. “This is something we ought to be doing.”