George Mason University (Mason) will commemorate World AIDS Day by bringing more than 100 blocks of the AIDS Memorial Quilt (more than 1,200 square feet) to their main campus in Fairfax, Virginia on December 1, 2009.  Thousands of students, faculty, and community representatives from throughout the Washington, D.C. area and beyond are expected to participate in the event. In addition to displaying the quilt, the event will showcase speakers, entertainers, displays, films, and works of art concerning AIDS. Invited speakers for the Mason AIDS Quilt event include well-known AIDS advocates Hydeia Broadbent and Big Tigger, as well as scientists, public health experts, AIDS survivors, and community advocates.  AIDS related panel discussions, films, art, and exhibits will be presented in the Johnson Center bebinning at 10 a.m., at Dewberry Hall, in the Johnson Center and will run until 4 p.m. that day. The complete agenda for the event is available at: www.MasonAIDSQuilt.com

Community groups  planning to participate in the event include the Inova Juniper Program, the National Minority AIDS Council, the National Association for People Living With AIDS, the National Institutes of Health, the Entertainment Industries Council, the Metro D.C. Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, the Whitman Walker Clinic, the Northern Virginia AIDS Ministry, the Sexual Minority Youth Assistance League, the Human Rights Campaign, Equality Virginia, the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, KI, and the Fairfax County Health Literacy Initiative (representing the Fairfax County Health Department, the Fairfax County Public Library, the Inova Health Care System, and many other community organizations).

“Our intent is to raise awareness among our students and the greater Mason community and to demonstrate the university’s commitment to this critical social and worldwide health issue,” said Dr. Gary L, Kreps, Chair of the GMU Department of Communication and Director of the Center for Health and Risk Communication. “At the same time, we also recognize the solemnity of this day and will pay tribute to the thousands who have died from AIDS,” he said.

There are many academic and research programs at George Mason University focused on HIV/AIDS prevention and support, including the Center for Health and Risk Communication and graduate programs in health and strategic communication. “We are also drawn to this issue as one of the most diverse universities in the country and because of our proximity to Washington, D.C., which has one of the highest rates of HIV/AIDS incidence and mortality in the county,” Kreps said.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, on average, every 9½ minutes, someone in the United States is infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. In 2006, an estimated 56,300 people became infected with HIV and today more than 1 million people in the United States are living with HIV.

World AIDS Day, observed globally on December 1 every year, is dedicated to raising awareness of AIDS. Since 1995, World AIDS Day has been recognized by the President of the United States for observance.

The AIDS Memorial Quilt, which is maintained by The NAMES Project Foundation, Inc., includes more than 47,000 panels dedicated to more than 91,000 individuals. Each “block” (or section) of The AIDS Memorial Quilt measures approximately twelve feet square, and a typical block consists of eight individual three foot by six foot panels sewn together.

Goals:

AWARENESS – Increasing awareness of HIV/AIDS at personal, societal and global levels
ENGAGEMENT – Promoting collaborative relationships within and beyond the campus community
REFLECTION – Encouraging reflection about individual lives and societal responsibilities
COMMITMENT – Demonstrating leadership and action at individual, group, institutional, and societal levels

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