Alum Honors the Memory of AIDS Victims
March 10, 2007 5:17 PM
Cleve Jones, a former SF State student and the founder of the AIDS Quilt memorial, was a guest speaker Friday at the San Francisco Columbarium for a Day of Remembrance Ceremony, honoring those who have died from the AIDS epidemic.
“I started the Quilt in 1987 in my backyard in San Francisco,” said Jones. “The first panel was for my friend, Marvin Feldman. The quilt is a moving memorial with panels made for family members. It’s become the world’s largest community arts project. The last time it was displayed in full was in 1996 in Washington DC, where it filled the national mall.”
Jones was an Urban Studies major in the 70’s, and interned in the office of Harvey Milk, a gay rights activist who would be elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Milk was assassinated in 1978, and Jones dropped out of SF State to become a full-time human rights lobbyist.
Jones is at once positive and skeptical about the steps made in sexual education.
“Clearly progress has been made,” Jones said, “but it has to be repeated, targeted in the right places, and maintained.”
“Young people need to pay attention. People are being careless,” Jones said. "While there are more effective medications to treat the symptoms of HIV, there is still no cure."
“There’s an increasing prevalence,” Jones said, “to multi-strain viruses that are immune to the medications.” Jones said that the virus in his body was constantly changing, and become more resistant to treatment.
Cleve Jones published has published his memoirs, “Stitching a Revolution.” A rock opera based on his life is due later in the year.
“All I ever wanted to do was be an activist,” Jones said.
He is currently working for Unite Here!, a labor union for hotel and textile workers.
For more information on Cleve Jones, visit sleepwiththerightpeople.org
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