The AIDS quilt

The Australian AIDS Memorial Quilt was launched in 1988 with 35 panels. There are now 122 quilt blocks, each with around 8 panels, commemorating approximately 2,700 Australians who have died of AIDS-related illnesses.

Section of AIDS Memorial Quilt

 © Sydney Quilt Project

The function of the quilt has changed from being a tangible expression of grief, to a site of remembrance, and an opportunity for people to revisit old friends.

Working with the quilt has filled me with lots of different emotions. There's some sort of connection for me with the person commemorated, even though I didn't know them personally.

It's an emotional experience when we display the quilt, and I see something new and different each time. You can tell so much about a person's life from each panel. It's the most incredible memorial, but one which enables you to see the humanity behind the statistics. Douglas Knox, 46, former Convenor, Quilt Project, Sydney

Each unique panel is a memorial made by friends, families and lovers, and often includes mementoes like clothing, favourite objects and photographs. Some panels memorialise groups of people rather than individuals. There are 37 quilt projects worldwide, and branches in most Australian states and territories.

In 1990, an estimated 520 Australians died from AIDS-related illnesses. Deaths reached their peak in 1994 when around 753 people died. In 2001, 97 Australians died from AIDS-related illnesses. (Estimates from the National Centre for HIV and AIDS).


Last Updated:

Tags Death Online, remembering the dead, memorial, AIDS quilt,