SUNY Potsdam Displays Memorial Quilt Panels for World AIDS Day


This year marks 30 years since the first case of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome was first diagnosed in the United States. It is also the 23rd official observation of World AIDS Day, organized by UNAIDS, an international AIDS intervention organization.

The first case of AIDS was diagnosed in Los Angeles in 1981, even though the name for the syndrome had not yet been coined. Since that first diagnosis, more than 33 million people worldwide have been infected with the virus, and more than 1 million people in the United States have become HIV-positive. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated in 2009 that about 25 percent of the people in the U.S. who are HIV-positive do not know their status.

For the 2011 World AIDS Day, SUNY Potsdam’s AIDS Education Group (PAEG) is bringing nine panels of the AIDS Memorial Quilt, “The Quilt,” to campus.  This is the fourth time that SUNY Potsdam has hosted or co-hosted the quilt. Started in 1987 as a remembrance and tribute to loved ones who died from AIDS-related illnesses, the quilt now contains more than 91,000 panels and names, and is more than 1 million square feet, too large to be shown in its entirety.

The nine panels reflect those areas of the state most SUNY Potsdam students call “home”:  the greater New York City area, Western New York and the North Country. Two of these areas—New York City and Rochester—are epicenters of HIV infection in New York State. In addition, New York City is one of the 12 epicenters of HIV in the U.S.

To learn more about the AIDS Memorial Quilt, visit To find out more about AIDS, visit

SUNY-PAEG will hold World AIDS Day recognition events from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 5 to 7 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday, Nov. 29 and 30, and from 9 to 11 a.m. on Thursday, Dec. 1. The display will be in the Barrington Student Union Multi-Purpose Room at SUNY Potsdam. This event is free and open to the public.

For more information, please contact Dr. Patricia Whelehan, professor of anthropology and campus AIDS education coordinator, SUNY Potsdam, at (315) 267-2048 or

SUNY-PAEG was created in 1988 by faculty, staff and students interested in promoting HIV/AIDS awareness and education and developing interventions to reduce the risk of infection. Since then, their activities have included networking and working with local, regional, national and international groups to achieve this goal.

For more information about the many community events offered at SUNY Potsdam, visit

Founded in 1816, and located on the outskirts of the beautiful Adirondack Park, The State University of New York at Potsdam is one of America’s first 50 colleges. SUNY Potsdam currently enrolls approximately 4,350 undergraduate and graduate students. Home to the world-renowned Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam is known for its handcrafted education, challenging liberal arts and sciences core, excellence in teacher training and leadership in the performing and visual arts.