By Diane Ako and photographer Ed Matthews
HONOLULU (KHNL) - People in Hawaii observed World AIDS Day. It's a chance for people from all walks of life to raise awareness and focus attention on the global AIDS epidemic. Quilts line the wall at this Lutheran church. Each one memorializes a person who died from AIDS.
Ray Herradura, Hawaii Island Director of the Names Project, explains, "The quilt is a remembrance of individuals by their family and friends."
Pat Pa'akaula visits her son Kaipo's quilt. Family members put Kapio's photos on the blanket, and his favorite poem. It took them a long time to come up with the design. "He died in 1994 and I'm still involved with the fight against AIDS."
Pa'akaula says the quilt comforts her. "He's there. He goes all over the country. People see him. And once in a while he comes here and I can see him again."
Each quilt tells a story. And organizers hope the stories are ones you'll listen to. Herradura says, "These people got it. You can get it. It's out there. There were 40,000 new cases this year and that's the ones on record. For me World AIDS Day is every day not just December 1."
An estimated 39.5 million people now live with HIV. Half of them got infected before age 25 and are killed by AIDS before they are 35. So on this day, educate, motivate, and mobilize in the fight against this deadly disease.