Campus gears up for arrival of AIDS Quilt

ashley sbarbaro

Americans face numerous health battles every day, and though money is donated and time is volunteered, many times the easiest way to fight back is often overlooked: through education, awareness and testing. It is estimated that one in every 250 college students tests positive for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Given what we know about HIV and college students, it is becoming increasingly important to engage students, staff and faculty in conversation about the sexual health realities and risks that we face.

The members of the Names Project AIDS Memorial Quilt Display committee have announced that a portion of the AIDS Quilt will be displayed at the University from Nov. 29 to Dec. 1.

With its beautiful panels, the quilt travels around the country, continuing to grow as people create more and more panels, in an attempt to reach more communities through its message of remembrance, awareness and hope. The AIDS Quilt, as the largest community arts project in the world, memorializes the lives of over 44,000 individuals lost to AIDS. The Villanova community is invited to attend, volunteer or create a panel for the AIDS Quilt display here.

Although the Quilt does not arrive until Nov. 29, the preparations surrounding the display of this powerful memorial have already begun.

In the weeks and months preceding the display, a major goal is to educate the Villanova campus and greater community on a wide range of HIV and AIDS-related issues. Members of the steering committee, consisting of representatives from across Student Life and academia, have developed the Campaign for a Cure.

The Campaign for a Cure features activities, events and opportunities for students, staff and faculty to engage in dialogue about the various issues related to HIV and several core topical areas: HIV and the College Student, Pop Culture and HIV, The Church and HIV, Global AIDS, and Women & HIV.

Thus far, the Campaign for a Cure has featured Julie Lynch, a Villanova graduate turned film producer, who screened her film, “Getting Off,” followed by a discussion with faculty, staff, and students from the P.O.W.E.R. peer education program, women’s studies, theater, communication and Peace and Justice.

Her film shows that HIV and AIDS can affect any individual, regardless of race, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status. In conjunction with the Gay-Straight Coalition, the campaign has also included the documentary “Journey to a Hate-Free Millennium” presented by nationally known speaker, Brent Scarpo.

This film featured stories of hate and violence including the nationally covered stories of James Byrd, Jr., Matthew Shepard, and those lost at Columbine High School. Athletics and the Center for Health and Wellness Education, as part of the campaign, joined together to bring Elaine Pasqua to campus where she shared her story of losing her parents to AIDS and her efforts to build compassion and support for those living with HIV and AIDS. Students packed into the cinema for both programs, illustrating the need for more conversation about larger issues surrounding HIV/AIDS in our world.

The Center for Health and Wellness Education, the Display committee, and additional sponsors have coordinated many recent and upcoming events, including the AIDS Walk on Oct. 16th, and free and anonymous HIV testing at the Student Health Center on Oct. 18 and Nov. 29.

Upcoming events include speakers and programs focused on various issues related to HIV and AIDS, the Concert for a Cure and Road to a Cure on Nov. 20, featuring performances by Guster, the Roots and Michael Tolcher and highlighting various Global AIDS issues, all in preparation for the AIDS Quilt display.

If you are interested in more information about upcoming events or would like to get involved, visit the Villanova AIDS Quilt website at and attend one of the Volunteer Open Houses on Oct. 21 at 12 p.m. in Room 200 of the Health Services Building or on Oct. 24 at 8 p.m. in the West Lounge of Dougherty Hall.