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Quilted panel honoring lives lost to HIV/AIDS hangs in County Office Building on Main Street

World AIDS Day
Racquel Stephen
Quilted panel from the Nation AIDS Memorial hangs in Monroe County office building

On World AIDS Day, Monroe County leaders joined with LGBTQ activists to remember the lives lost to the disease.

“Today we mourn the many people who lost not only their lives, but their livelihood, to this virus, and to the bigotry, and stigma, and all the other inequities that they have had to deal with in their short lives,” public health commissioner Dr. Michael Mendoza said during Wednesday’s ceremony in the county office building.

A panel of the National AIDS Memorial Quilt is being displayed in the building throughout December. It’s one of 50,000 that are typically displayed at the National AIDS Memorial in San Francisco. It contains the names of those who died from the disease in Monroe County.

“This quilt is an artifact of remembrance, healing and hope,” said County Executive Adam Bello, “I'm honored to display it here in the Monroe County Office Building.”

World AIDS Day 02
Racquel Stephen
From Left, Assemblyman Harry Bronson, Trillium Health Co-Founder Bill Valenti, MD , County Executive Adam Bello, and Public Health Commissioner Michael Mendoza, MD

This year marks 40 years since the first case of HIV/AIDS was reported in the United States. Since then, more than 700,000 people have died from HIV-related illnesses.

State Assemblyman Harry Bronson said while World AIDS Day is a time to remember those we have lost, it’s also a day to recognize the advancements made to fight the disease.

“We also celebrate the steps we have made to conquer this epidemic, moving it from a death sentence to a treatable disease,” Bronson said.

He added there are lessons to be learned from the AIDS epidemic as we face the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We must be ever vigilant to address social, racial and economic injustice that manifests itself in health disparities, bigotry, and fear,” Bronson said.

Racquel Stephen is a health and environment reporter. She holds a bachelor's degree in English literature from the University of Rochester and a master's degree in broadcasting and digital journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.