AIDS Day events coming to USF

The struggles of everyday life for those living with AIDS aren’t usually at the forefront of students’ minds, but USF and the NAMES Project hope to change that – at least for a day.

As part of its participation in World AIDS Day – held worldwide Dec. 1 – the NAMES Project displays a quilt comprised of 45,000 colorful handmade panels that is often the highlight of World AIDS Day events.

On Friday at noon, the NAMES Project will add 16 panels from USF in a formal enfolding ceremony held at MLK Plaza.

In 1997, an HIV/AIDS committee began coordinating the efforts of different student organizations to create panels it hoped would one day become part of the NAMES Project quilt.

According to one of the committee’s founding members, Penny Phillips, students, faculty and community members have created 123 panels since the USF project began, most of which are on display throughout the USF Bookstore.

The 16 panels from USF were chosen to represent a diverse cross section of the 123 panels originally made, Phillips said.

“It is an honor to finally have them in the display,” she said.

According to Phillips, Jeff Thur, a member of the board of directors of the NAMES Project, walked into the USF Bookstore over the summer, discovered the panels and asked the manager if he could add them to the NAMES Project.

Rather than commemorate the lives of those lost to the epidemic, Phillips said the USF panels aim to inspire hope in those living with the disease, which will bring a different perspective to the quilt.

“The very first panel we ever made will be added to the quilt Friday. I think it’s a very special ceremony, especially because it is USF’s 50th anniversary,” Phillips said.

The USF HIV/AIDS committee has since disbanded, but several members are contributing to the event in hopes of raising awareness of the continuously spreading epidemic.