College Students Create a Floral AIDS Quilt

Rommel Marcilino
Rommel Marcilino
Ku'ulani Miyashiro
Ku'ulani Miyashiro

DIAMOND HEAD (KHNL) -- More than 25 million people worldwide have died from AIDS, and another 33 million have HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, according to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS.

Here in Hawaii, about 3,000 people are living with the disease, and a group of local college students is on a mission of AIDS education.

World AIDS Day is Saturday, but students at Kapiolani Community college wanted to do something ahead of the anniversary. They created a floral statement that makes people stop and take notice.

A patchwork of woven memories of lives cut short.

Loved ones honoring those who were taken away too soon.

Rommel Marcilino lost friends to AIDS. He said despite advances in HIV therapy, AIDS is still a fatal disease.

"Just because there are medicines are out there, it doesn't mean there's a cure because there isn't," said Marcilino, a student at Kapiolani Community College (KCC). "It changes everything."

It changed for him 24 years ago, when he tested positive for HIV.

"A lot of kids don't think it can happen to them, it happened to me when I felt it would never happen to me," said Marcilino.

He and other students at KCC want to send a strong message, just days before World AIDS Day.

"And what we've tried to do in the last three days of these events is try to bring out the education and awareness about AIDS," said Ku'ulani Miyashiro, a campus service-learning outreach coordinator. "And that it can affect anybody anywhere and that it has."

That's why they created a giant floral quilt at the center of KCC's Great Lawn as a reminder and an educational tool.

"This quilt that we've been putting together has really been a memorial," said Miyashiro. "And kind of showing student support, showing that people are aware of the illness and that they can do something by getting involved in their community."

Getting involved to save lives.

"Just live one day at a time pretty much," said Marcilino. "I live for the moment. That's all I can ask for."

Creating a living reminder for those who've died.

Despite advancements in AIDS medication, about 2.1 million people died of AIDS so far this year. More than half a million were children.