The UK AIDS Memorial Quilt is a precious artefact. Each of the panels commemorates lives lost to the AIDS pandemic during the 1980s and 90s. It is a public naming of loved ones lost, and a memorial for the many who died and went unnamed too.
It is part of an international movement that sought to raise awareness of the impact of the AIDS pandemic and ensure that these lives would never be forgotten.
The quilts remind us how far the UK has come in the fight against HIV but how much there is still to be done to tackle stigma, reduce new infections, particularly in vulnerable communities, and support those living with HIV to lead long and healthy lives.
Reflections Of The Launch Event from Our Chair, Jo Hancock
The UK AIDS Quilt Partnership was in the early stages of development when I began my first term as Chair for George House Trust. I remember the panels being packed up ready to be transported to their new home, and the determination that they would not stay locked away.
It is therefore fitting that one of the last “official” events I attended as Chair is the largest display of the UK AIDS quilts in London since the early 1990s. The launch event on 3rd July 2021 was both a celebration of how far we have come, and a protest at the stigma, discrimination and needless loss of life.
It was loud and passionate - the energy in the room was palpable. As we moved to view the panels silence descended.
The quilt is a poignant piece of social history. But more than that, it is a very powerful reminder of the personal loss felt by so many. Each panel celebrates and commemorates the life of a loved one – named or unnamed. To view it is both challenging and uplifting, the experience public and yet so very private. It is a reminder that HIV is still with us and that lives are still lost.
It is a call to action to challenge HIV stigma, support those living with HIV today, and create a future free from HIV.
The AIDS Quilt Exhibition was organised by The Food Chain, George House Trust, Terrence Higgins Trust, Positive East, Positively UK, Sahir House, Waverley Care and Fast Track Cities London.