SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — Thirty-five years ago this week, the first panels of the Aids Memorial Quilt were stitched in San Francisco. This weekend, more than 3,000 quilt panels are being displayed in Golden Gate Park, making this the quilt’s largest display in more than a decade.
It honors those who died from the disease and reminds people it is still taking lives.
Tears of joy and sadness are shared by family members who mourn loved ones lost from HIV-AIDS.
“Had we made better choices, Mark could be alive today,” said Cory Lynch-Grant who is remembering her cousin who died from the disease.
It pains Lynch-Grant and her mother to think more could have been done to treat their cousin and nephew, Mark Melendey who died from the disease on the East Coast in 1996.
The National AIDS Memorial says 1.3 million people are living with HIV in the United States with more than 30,000 new cases being reported each year.
The epidemic has killed more than 36 million people around the world. And, here in the U.S., National Aids Memorial COO Kevin Herglotz says case rates are rising in the South.
“Gilead sciences has announced a $2.4 million grant to us to bring sections of the quilt in the communities in the South that are most impacted by HIV today,” Herglotz said.
Three thousand panels are on display in Golden Gate Park through Sunday, but when it is fully assembled, the quilt includes 50,000 panels, honoring 110,000 names.
“I saw a vey poignant one about a young woman who died in 2021,” said Linda Palmstrom who is remembering her brother. “So, its still going on. We still need to let people know.”
Each panel spans three by six feet, symbolizing the size of a grave.