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UCSD Holds Tribute in Honor of World AIDS Day

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Friday is World AIDS day – an international day of activism against HIV and AIDS.  About 40 million people around the world – and about 5,000 in San Diego County - are living with HIV or AIDS. Today, student activists at UCSD held a tribute to those who’ve lost their lives to the disease. Heather Hill has the story.

The AIDS Memorial Quilt on display at UCSD is a powerful reminder of the devastation of the disease.  It is the largest ongoing community art project in the world.  Three twelve-by-twelve panels from the quilt are being showcased at UCSD.  These panels contain only 24 of the more than 40,000 blocks that make up the quilt. Each piece pays tribute to a person's life – and some of the pieces here represent san Diegans.  Shaun Travers is the director of UCSD's LGBT Resource Center.  He says the quilt and its message of remembrance and action are especially relevant in San Diego.

Shaun Travers: San Diego is impacted in so many ways by HIV and AIDS, but one of the powerful things about San Diego is that there's so much research that's being done, and UCSD is a big part of that research.  And so, the Center for AIDS Research and all of its constituent organizations are a big part of that in really taking a lead internationally in affecting HIV and AIDS.

Students are also a big part of the day's activities which include multimedia presentations, a photographic exhibit and a wall of remembrance.  Neha Talreja is a senior member of Student Health Advocates at the university.  The group co-sponsors the event with other campus organizations.  She says it's important to get the student population involved and encourage them to be proactive.

Neha Talreja: Students are the future of America and future of the entire world.  And we're the next generation and for us to be aware means that we'll carry on a legacy of the people who have lost their lives and the people who have been affected.  And as long as we're aware, we're the ones who can make the change in the future and it's really important for us to have a broad spectrum of interests and this is one and health is a big interest, and unfortunate causes of health are also an important thing to remember.  So as students, we have a strong say and we should use that to our best advantage."

The AIDS Memorial Quilt is sponsored by the Names Project Foundation based in Atlanta, Georgia.  If all the current panels were put together, the quilt would be over a million square feet in size and weigh more than 54 tons.

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