AIDS Memorial Quilt installed at Coastal Grand Mall - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

AIDS Memorial Quilt installed at Coastal Grand Mall

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - About 25 percent of people living with HIV and AIDS don't know they have it. An AIDS memorial quilt is on display at Coastal Grand Mall as a reminder of all the lives lost to the disease.

The AIDS memorial quilts were first displayed on the National Mall in Washington D.C., and were originally the size of a football field. Now the quilt collection has grown to more than 40,000 quilt panels being showcased all across the country.

“HIV just touches everyone’s lives today,” said Johanna Haynes, Director of Careteam+.

Haynes hopes the crowds at the mall during this time of year can raise more awareness to the HIV and AIDS epidemic. She said the infection rate had declined some over the last few years, but not significantly.

“They’re probably about 1,200 people living in our three-county area with HIV today," Haynes said. "We serve Horry, Georgetown, and Williamsburg counties.”

A CDC HIV/AIDS study shows homosexual males and African-Americans are more likely to be infected. One in every 16 black males and 1 in 32 black women will have an HIV diagnoses in their lifetime. About 20 percent of white males and females are infected in the state of South Carolina.

"Twenty-five percent of people living with HIV today don't know that they have it," Haynes said. "The problem with that is that's the group most responsible for spreading HIV today, is the people who have and don't know they have it, so they don't know to be careful."

If you have a made a quilt honoring someone you know who have died from complications associated with HIV and AIDS, you can display your quilt at the Worlds AIDS Day Vigil at the Myrtle Beach SkyWheel on December 1, it will then be taken to add to the other thousands of quilts across the country.

The first step to know your status is to get tested. Careteam+ offers free HIV testing.

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