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Memorial AIDS quilt on display in Charleston

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"Black Friday" ArtWalk

WHERE: Downtown Charleston

WHEN: 5 p.m. - 8 p.m. Friday

TICKETS: Free

INFO: Visit www.charlestonartwalk.com

_____CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Pieces of the national AIDS Memorial Quilt -- including some that honor West Virginians who died from the disease -- will be on display in Charleston this weekend.

Four blocks of panels of the AIDS quilt will be on display at the Good News Mountaineer Garage at 221 Hale St. during the Charleston Downtown Art Walk today.

The panels will also be featured at St. John's during its Sunday morning service and at Asbury Methodist Church on Sunday evening during the annual World AIDS Day commemoration.

The AIDS Memorial Quilt has more than 48,000 panels, most of which commemorate the life of someone who died of AIDS.

Tom Dobbs and Roger Cain, both of whom lived in Charleston and died of AIDS, are featured in the quilt panels that will be on display here.

Cain was an AIDS activist who the board of Charleston's Living AIDS Memorial Garden posthumously awarded the Red Ribbon Award. Dobbs was an ordained Episcopal priest who lived in Colorado, but came back to Charleston to be an AIDS educator and activist when he was diagnosed.

Both Cain and Dobbs were friends of Bob Rosier, a founding member of the Straight and Gay Alliance at St. John's Episcopal SAGA, which is sponsoring the memorial's visit.

Besides Dobbs and Cain, there are names of other West Virginians on the quilt, Rosier said.

"There are others that you can tell are from West Virginia because they have the outline of the state map or the WVU logo," Rosier said.

Not all of the panels have a full name, or any name, on them.

"I lost several friends back in the '80s when there were no treatment," Rosier said, adding that more of his friends could be featured on the quilt. "Some of things just have a first name, so you don't know for sure."

During Art Walk, which is from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, the Good News Mountaineer Garage will also have live music and will offer confidential AIDS testing, director Barbara Bayes said.

SAGA approached the organization, which fixes and gives donated vehicles to needy families, with the idea of hosting the quilt during Art Walk.

"It's something we felt the community needed to celebrate and we aware of," Bayes said. "HIV is getting more prevention than it has because of the awareness campaign."

At the same time there's been an increase in HIV among people with who abuse intravenous drugs, she said.  

"The biggest focus of this is AIDS awareness day and it's a very important day," Bayes said. "It's remarkable how much prevention has increased because of the awareness campaign."

Sunday marks World AIDS Day. The panels will be on display at St. John's Episcopal Church Sunday morning and at Asbury United Methodist Church Sunday evening as a part of a ceremony marking World AIDS Day.  The Charleston Gay Men's Chorale will sing during the service and afterward at a service at the nearby Living AIDS Memorial Garden on Washington Street.

During the Asbury service at 6 p.m., the board of Living AIDS Memorial Garden will award the 2013 Red Ribbon Award to Jay Adams, HIV care coordinator for Ryan White Programs in Wheeling.

"He's quite an activist and very deserving of the award," said Rosier, who also serves on the board for the Living AIDS Memorial Garden. "We will continue to give the award.

"There are plenty of people who are deserving because of that they've done to help people with AIDS or to educate people about AIDS." Reach Lori Kersey at lori.kersey@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1240.


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