Experiencing the Quilt of John Gonzalez


John Gonzalez’s mother created a panel for him at The Names Project. The Names project is a foundation that memorializes over 5000 people who have passed from AIDS. His quilt, block #584, is very detailed and shows that he was just a regular teenager. On each side of his quilt it shows a piece of him. There is a depiction of a football and several little players around the football running. There is a hat, sunglasses, and a sneaker on one side of his panel. These things just showed me that he was interested in what most teenage boys are interested in.  He was loved by many and that is made clear from the border, where there are many loving messages to John from his peers and family. The first thing that caught my eye when looking and choosing this quilt was the picture used. It looked like a graduation picture and his youth immediately grasped my attention, because I just graduated from high school May 2017, so I felt an instant connection because that could’ve been me or any of my friends. Realizing this made me want to know more about him and things that may have contributed to his, so soon, death. After analyzing this quilt and picking out all the big and little details, I soon began to wonder how someone so young could have contracted and died from this disease. Which lead me to wonder how many teens, just like John, were affected by this disease and what measures were society taking to inform kids of this, then, death sentence?

According to CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention), John Gonzalez was 1 of the 759 teens (13-19) to have HIV/AIDS in the years 1988-1992. He was also 1 of the 181,212 people who died from HIV/AIDS in those years. The youth have been made victim when it comes to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, because of poor teaching, undeveloped medical procedures, and passed on infection through birth. Teenagers have played a shocking role in the evolution of society’s  views and handling of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

I will start off by discussing how society addressed the HIV/AIDS epidemic, specifically how it was handled through sex education in schools. Following that I will compare the 1980s/1990s stats with the current stats, seeing how or if there was a significant change. I will also discuss the difference between the youth and adults, while also seeing if there is a difference at all. Lastly, I will speak on the teens who have contributed to the evolution of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.