Beloit Public Library displays panels of historic AIDS quilt

Local News

BELOIT, Wis. (WTVO) — A Wisconsin library is raising awareness for AIDS victims.

Now through December 7, residents can see a piece of history in Beloit, showing how more than 700,000 lives lost will always be remembered.

“The AIDS epidemic has caused over 700,000 people, have lost their life to AIDS since we started tracking it back in 1981,” said Jeni Schomber, Head of Library Services at Beloit Public Library.

Wednesday, Dec. 1 marks “World AIDS Day,” a day to help spread awareness of the AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of HIV.

The Beloit Public Library is honored to be able to display six panels from the AIDS Memorial Quilt,” Schomber said. “They arrived this morning, we just put them up, very happy to have them here. Each one has a connection to Wisconsin.”

Schomber said she was inspired to raise awareness after reading Ann Bausum’s book “Pandemics: The Fight Against AIDS in America.”

“I just got interested, and realized that we could actually bring the quilt here to Beloit,” Schomber said. “We’re one of only two public libraries in the country who has the panels on display.”

The six panels will be on display until December 7.

“The quilt itself is so large that it doesn’t fit on the national mall anymore. There’s over 50,000 panels, and it weighs 54 tons,” Schomber said. “Each quilt I was able to request does have a tie to Wisconsin, whether it’s group from Wisconsin or an individual from Wisconsin.”

Schomber said it is important to recognize the lives that have been impacted by the virus.

“I would say the quilt that has the student from Beloit College, just because it’s so close to home, and then there was another one in the 40 years, 40 stories,” Schomber said. “There’s a story of a young, 12-year-old girl who died of AIDS in the 80’s.”

In commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the first AIDS cases reported in America, Schomber recommended people to brush up on an overlooked part of history.

“I just think it’s very important, that it’s something we just need to keep thinking about, and it’s something we need to be educated about,” Schomber said.

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