Thirty years since the outbreak of the HIV epidemic, the UK AIDS Memorial Quilt has been on public display in Westminster Hall from November 27 to December 2.
Its purpose, to commemorate the lives of those who died, and was part of the exhibition People and Parliament: Remembering 30 Years of HIV and AIDS.
Hundreds of individuals made quilt panels in memory of loved ones who had died from AIDS in the 1980s and 1990s, inspired by a global project that started in America.
Stephen Doughty MP (Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on HIV/AIDS said: “The exhibition is both a remarkable visual testimony to the thousands of lives lost to AIDS and an important reflection on Parliament’s role throughout the HIV epidemic from the iconic 1987 tombstone adverts through to latest innovations such as HIV home testing.”
“The UK AIDS Memorial Quilt is an irreplaceable piece of international social history which tells the stories of people whose lives were lost particularly at the beginning of the AIDS epidemic. This exhibition must serve as a reminder of how far we have come in treating HIV/AIDS in the UK and the important role which Parliament has played and continues to play in ending the epidemic, but also how much more remains to be done in the UK and globally.”
David Carr, partner of Mark William Tyack, said: “I met Mark in 1984. We fell in love and were partners for 7 fabulous years until he tragically died of AIDS at the age of 26.
“During Mark’s short life he fought against all forms of prejudice, and together we campaigned hard against Section 28. It’s wonderful that Parliament is today paying tribute to Mark and all those other brave people who died of AIDS and who are commemorated by these extraordinary quilts.
“When I saw Mark’s quilt again last year, for the first time since 1994, I was hugely affected. It brought back to me all the fears and suffering which people with AIDS experienced back then. Mark’s bravery in facing such an early death was extraordinary.
“I think it’s crucial that the memorial quilts continue to be displayed, especially on World AIDS Day, so that future generations don’t forget all those people who in the early years of the virus faced such appalling discrimination and a terrifying fate.”
The historic display was organised by a coalition of charities including George House Trust, Terrence Higgins Trust, Positive East, The Food Chain, Positively UK and Sahir House, with support from the All Parliamentary Group (APPG) on HIV.
HIV has changed since the 1980s. HIV no longer stops those living with the virus leading long and healthy lives – but there is still much to be done to tackle stigma, stop transmission and diagnose the 1 in 8 who are unaware they have the virus.
You can get involved on social media using the hashtag #AIDSQuiltUK