SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — The San Francisco-based National AIDS Memorial organization this week announced a 50-state AIDS Memorial Quilt virtual exhibition, which will run from Nov. 16 to March 31, 2021. The exhibition is free to the public.

The quilt, which activist Cleve Jones conceptualized back in 1985, memorializes those who died of AIDS-related causes. Historians credit the quilt and tour taking it to 20 cities across the nation for helping draw attention to the AIDS crisis, leading the federal government to fund research into the fatal disease.

Organizers of the virtual tour invited individuals, businesses, and nonprofits from around the country to host a display of sections of the quilt “that tell the stories of loved ones lost to AIDS from each state and U.S. territory.”

Volunteers lay out the AIDS Quilt on the National Mall July 23, 2012 as part of the 19th International AIDS Conference in Washington, DC. (KAREN BLEIER/AFP/GettyImages)

Volunteers lay out the AIDS Quilt on the National Mall July 23, 2012 as part of the 19th International AIDS Conference in Washington, DC. (KAREN BLEIER/AFP/GettyImages)

“During the darkest days of the AIDS crisis, the Quilt was a source of immense comfort, inspiration and used as a tool for social activism to open the eyes of the nation to injustice and to help survivors grieve and heal,” John Cunningham, executive director of the National AIDS Memorial, said in a news release. “We hope that the power and beauty of the Quilt can serve the same purpose for those who are experiencing loss and grief due to COVID-19.”

Applications must be received by Nov. 1 in order to qualify. In addition, participants are required to pay a $500 entry fee. Proceeds from the exhibition will go directly to preserving the Memorial Quilt, which contains over 48,000 individual panels.

More than 700,000 people have died of AIDS since the start of the epidemic in the early 1980s. The National AIDS Memorial was founded in 1996, and remains the only federally designated AIDS Memorial in the U.S.

To sign up as a virtual display host, people can visit aidsmemorial.org/virtual2020.

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