The NAMES Project Foundation and Merck Launch "Call My Name" National Tour AIDS Panel Making Workshop to Focus Attention on HIV/AIDS Crisis in African American Communities

Tuesday, February 7, 2012 8:08 am EST

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"Our collaboration with The NAMES Project Foundation is a critical part of this ongoing commitment. We are proud to support the 'Call My Name' national workshop tour, which will go a long way to raise awareness and help improve the lives of people living with HIV across the U.S."

In recognition of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, The NAMES Foundation, with support from Merck, (known as MSD outside the United States and Canada), today announced the launch of the "Call My Name" national tour. The tour will help bring attention to the distressing trajectory of the AIDS epidemic in African American communities in the U.S. through quilt-making and educational workshops.

The tour revives the legacy of quilting-as-activism to commemorate African American lives lost to the epidemic and to strengthen access to treatment and care for these communities. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in the United States, African Americans represent the largest group impacted by HIV. African Americans accounted for 44 percent of all new HIV infections in 2009, despite representing only 14 percent of the U.S. population in that year. "Over 30 years into the HIV/AIDS epidemic, it is more important than ever to remember those we've lost and protect those we love," says Julie Rhoad, president and CEO of The NAMES Project Foundation. "As the custodian of the AIDS Memorial Quilt, we are excited to partner with Merck to bring this effort to a new generation and to continue to inspire action to protect our communities."

"Merck has a longstanding history of partnering with the HIV community to reduce healthcare disparities in HIV treatment and care," said Chirfi Guindo, general manager & global commercial leader, HIV. "Our collaboration with The NAMES Project Foundation is a critical part of this ongoing commitment. We are proud to support the 'Call My Name' national workshop tour, which will go a long way to raise awareness and help improve the lives of people living with HIV across the U.S."

Through collaboration with historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), the Black AIDS Institute, policy makers, faith leaders, and pioneering AIDS activists and organizations, "Call My Name" brings African American communities together for the common purpose of fighting HIV. Call My Name workshops provide an opportunity to create quilt panels in recognition of African Americans affected by HIV/AIDS. Workshops also include presentations by leading advocates, messages on HIV prevention and critical information to address HIV/AIDS at the local level.

The 2012 national tour will visit 10 high-prevalence cities this year including Atlanta, Houston, Los Angeles, Jackson, MS; Washington, DC; Tallahassee, Philadelphia, Chicago, Boston and San Francisco.

The tour kicks off February 11, 2012 in Atlanta, where The NAMES Project Foundation will partner with Spelman College, the Atlanta University Center, SisterLove, BTAN Atlanta, and The SCLC Women to host hundreds of participants. The national tour will culminate in a panel dedication ceremony at the International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012) in Washington, DC this July.

To Request A "Call My Name" Workshop

To request or learn more about "Call My Name" workshops in your area, please contact: Jada Harris at 404.688.5500 ext. 228 or jharris@aidsquilt.org.

About The NAMES Project Foundation

Established in 1987, The NAMES Project Foundation, Inc. is the international, non-governmental organization that is the custodian of the AIDS Memorial Quilt and its associated document and media archive. The NAMES Project Foundation's mission is to preserve, care for, and use the AIDS Memorial Quilt to foster healing, advance social justice, and inspire action in the age of AIDS and beyond.

Merck's Commitment to Communities Impacted by HIV

For more than 25 years, Merck has been committed to reducing healthcare disparities and improving access to HIV treatment and care in the United States. As part of this commitment, Merck engages in public-private partnerships to reduce the impact of HIV on those most in need and most at risk. Merck collaborates with leading AIDS service organizations to develop solutions that strengthen access to treatment, care and support for disproportionately impacted communities.

To learn more about Merck's commitment to reducing healthcare disparities, click here.

About Merck

Today's Merck is a global healthcare leader working to help the world be well. Merck is known as MSD outside the United States and Canada. Through our prescription medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies, and consumer care and animal health products, we work with customers and operate in more than 140 countries to deliver innovative health solutions. We also demonstrate our commitment to increasing access to healthcare through far-reaching policies, programs and partnerships. For more information, visit http://www.merck.com and connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

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