Various departments team up, educate on World AIDS Day

By Alexandra Loyd | 12/3/18 10:15am

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The AIDS Memorial Quilt displayed on November 30th, 2018 in Holton-Hooker Living and Learning Center multipurpose room. Its intent, to raise awareness for AIDS.  GVL / Emily Modloff


In honor of World AIDS Day, Grand Valley State University’s Student Services and Inclusion and Equity Departments teamed together to put on several events throughout the week for the local community to create and spread awareness on Saturday, Dec. 1. 

Director of the Milton E. Ford LGBT Resource Center Jen Hsu-Bishop said that with the help of Campus Recreation and the University Counseling Center, the World AIDS Day Planning Committee (consisting of Campus Interfaith Resources, Disability Support resources, the Gayle R. Davis Center for Women and Gender Equality, Milton E. Ford LGBT Resource Center and the Office of Multicultural Affairs of the Division and Inclusion and Equity) is able to organize annual events to better educate students and the community on HIV and AIDS. 

The biggest event of the week was the showing of parts of the NAMES Project Foundation AIDS Memorial Quilt, both on the Allendale and Pew campuses. The quilt was established in 1987 and has become a traveling memorial to more than 96,000 people who have died because of AIDS complications. The entire quilt is composed of more than 49,000 three-by-nine panels, each commemorating the life of someone who died an AIDS-related illness. 

“This year, the committee organized to bring the NAMES Project Foundation AIDS Memorial Quilt back to GVSU,” Hsu-Bishop said. “The AIDS Memorial Quilt is a powerful reminder of the many lives lost to HIV and AIDS, especially during a time when little support, research and care was afforded to those diagnosed with HIV. The quilt continues to serve as a connection to the past, and we’re glad to host a panel of the quilt that was made in Grand Rapids.”

The university also hosted a free screening of the documentary “The Last One,” which goes further in detail on the history and making of the quilt. The showing was paired with a discussion led by associate professor and Director of the School of Social Work Scott Berlin afterward.  

Hsu-Bishop said that on Thursday, Nov. 29, the committee also coordinated two additional events.

On Thursday the Kent County Health Department provided free HIV testing for anyone interested. Additionally, the committee encouraged students to wear red all week in honor of World AIDS Day. 

“As a committee, we hope that students and community members continue to seek out education about HIV and AIDS, and support those living with HIV,” Hsu-Bishop said. “Individuals can also volunteer with organizations like the Grand Rapids Red Project and support our local health departments that provide education, testing and services for those living with HIV.” 

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