In 1981, two out of five previously healthy gay men, all of whom were reported to have Pneumocystis Carinii pneumonia, died from the exceedingly rare lung infection (HIV and AIDS Timeline).These deaths represent the beginning of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Most people have heard of HIV/AIDS, but they do not really know what it is. According to HIV.org, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a virus that is spread through transmission of body fluids. It attacks the cells in the immune system, called T-cells. Once enough immune cells are destroyed, the virus then becomes recognized as acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, or AIDS. Once this occurs, the infected’s immune system becomes compromised by opportunistic infections (HIV.org).

As the 80’s continued, more people started falling victim to HIV/AIDS and death rates sky rocketed. When congress failed to act, groups like the LGBT community became enraged and began activism. Through this activism, the NAMES project began.

The NAMES project created the AIDS quilt to not only commemorate those who had lost their lives to HIV/AIDS, but to act as a visual representation of their deaths (The AIDS Memorial Quilt).

“Aids Treatment Center Stony Brook” panel. The AIDS Quilt. The NAMES Project Foundation, 117 Luckie St. NW:: Atlanta, GA 30303.

This is panel #3335 and it is a representation of the lives lost from HIV/AIDS in 1994 at the Stony Brook AIDS Treatment Center. As with most panels, this one spans 6 feet in length and 3 feet in width. It consists of a bright color scheme and many intricate details such as buildings, trees, and what appear to be graves. In addition to these physical features, there are abstract features, such as the symbolism behind the quilt (read more here).

The Stony Brook AIDS Treatment Center is part of the Stony Brook Medical Center which is a university and hospital system in the state of New York.

Stony Brook University was an important entity during the HIV/AIDS crisis. It worked to destigmatize the disease and help the victims through awareness, education, and research. What they did and continue to do, can be used to help modern doctors destigmatize the opioid crisis.