It’s a familiar story in Washington, D.C. Seeking employment or the next step up the ladder, people come to the nation’s capital to try and make a difference.
There is no greater cause in the world than finding a cure for the AIDS disease, and this week scientists and doctors are gathering in the nation’s capital for the 16th International AIDS Conference. The conference was last held in the U.S. in San Francisco in 1990.
Along with the conference and events, the AIDS Memorial Quilt is being shown. Fittingly, raindrops dampened the Mall yesterday morning for the Opening Ceremony.
Portions of the Quilt are on display throughout the city and area. We went to the Torpedo Factory Arts Center in Old Town Alexandria to see some of the panels there. Alexandria has a higher rate of new HIV infections than anywhere else in Northern Virginia.
I spoke briefly with two volunteers who have worked with the Quilt program for over ten years. AIDS is not an easy subject to talk about but there’s something about the Memorial Quilt that washes away the need to remain silent. I've never attended any AIDS-related events, but I was touched by the quilt, and one in particular, because the lost soul was clearly a baseball fan.
I'm sure there is still a stigma attached to having the disease, but some advice I once heard seems appropriate.
“To thine own self be true.”
Translation: Get tested. Take care of yourself. Don't add one more name to the quilt.