On Oct. 22, the Southern AIDS Coalition and Test for Life will unveil a new collaboration that's both an educational tool and a virtual public-art project: the Southern AIDS Living Quilt, a Web site that will feature videos of Southern women living with HIV telling their stories, highlighting the disproportionate impact of the disease on minorities and providing information about testing, prevention, and the importance of early diagnosis. The Living Quilt will go live on the Web at LivingQuilt.org next Wednesday, following a 1 p.m. "unveiling" at the Collins C. Diboll Gallery at the Tulane University School of Public Health (1440 Canal St.).
The hour-long event (open to the public) will feature a panel discussion with Living Quilt participants, as well as speakers including Beth Scalco, director of HIV/AIDS programs at the Louisiana Office of Public Health, and Noel Twilbeck, executive director of the NO/AIDS Task Force. "New Orleans is an epicenter [for new HIV infections] and so is Louisiana," says John Procter, the project's media director. "More and more, it's turning into a suburban or rural crisis, and more and more African-American women are being impacted. The growth is alarming -- [HIV infection is] now the number one killer of African-American women 25-34 years old."
The Living Quilt is a high-tech descendant of the original AIDS Memorial Quilt, which was created in San Francisco in the 1980s in response to the city's first wave of HIV cases. Following the New Orleans unveiling, the Living Quilt will be further launched in weeks to come with ceremonies in other Southern cities, including one in Miami that will focus on Hispanics and AIDS.