40 Years of HIV & AIDS Activism: Muhlenberg Features Exhibit and Speaker Series

A fall exhibit and speaker series explore the impact of HIV/AIDS in the Lehigh Valley and around the globe.

 Wednesday, September 29, 2021 02:24 PM

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Through December 17, Muhlenberg College will feature the exhibit HIV and AIDS in the Lehigh Valley: 40 Years of Advocacy and Activism in the Trexler Library Rare Books Exhibit Room. Organized by Trexler Library and the Departments of History and Sociology & Anthropology at Muhlenberg, the exhibit highlights the community of local advocates and activists in the Lehigh Valley who formed organizations to help care for people with HIV and AIDS. It shares some of these instances of activism, including those at Muhlenberg College, using collections and oral histories held by Trexler Library. Many of these materials are a part of the Lehigh Valley LGBT Community Archive, a program of the Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center in partnership with  Trexler Library.

The accompanying fall speaker series, 40 Years of HIV/AIDS Activism: Perspectives from Around the Globe, honoring decades of HIV and AIDS advocacy and activism, is also organized by Trexler Library and the Departments of History and Sociology & Anthropology.

Upcoming speakers:

Registration is required for all events in the series, whether live or virtual: https://bit.ly/2XHpkm7 

  • Muhlenberg Student Panel featuring Student Research on HIV and AIDS
    October 1, 2 p.m. (Virtual event)

Victoria Retterholt '22: Her research focuses on the effects of HIV/AIDS on the Hispanic/Latinx population of the Lehigh Valley. Victoria investigated both historic and current access to care and resources for the local Hispanic/Latinx population affected by HIV/AIDS.

Jacob Frank '22: Frank was a part of Lehigh Valley Health Network’s Research Scholar program, working with the Infectious Disease Department and examining the impact of Covid-19 on people living with HIV in the Lehigh Valley.

Sarah Vetesi '21: She conducted research with Dr. Amy Slenker and the Infectious Disease Department through Lehigh Valley Health Network's Research Scholar Program. She helped design the project which analyzed the assessment of Sexually Transmitted Infections in both the emergency and ambulatory settings.

  • Dan Royles, "'Don't We Die Too?': Race and Sexuality in the Early AIDS Crisis"
    October 21, 7 p.m., Miller Forum, Moyer Hall

Cosponsored by the Center for Ethics and the Shankweiler Scholars Program

HIV/AIDS has disproportionately affected Black communities in the United States since the disease was first identified by doctors in 1981. While racial disparities in the HIV/AIDS epidemic are well documented, the history of African American responses to the disease has been largely ignored in emerging narratives of AIDS and AIDS activism in the United States. This talk will trace early efforts to respond to AIDS in Philadelphia's African American community and the ways that work was complicated by struggles over race, sexuality and urban space in the City of Brotherly Love. 

Royles is an assistant professor of history at Florida International University. He is the author of To Make the Wounded Whole: The African American Struggle against HIV/AIDS (UNC Press, 2020), and is working on a two-and-a-half-year study for the National Park Service on the history of anti-Black violence in the United States and its territories.

  • Mandisa Mbali, “Ending COVID-19 Everywhere? Lessons from South African AIDS Activism”
    October 29, 2 p.m. (Virtual event)

Mbali teaches at the University of Cape Town. Her main research interest is in health policy and activism, considered historically, as interrelated phenomena, both transnationally and within South Africa. Mbali has explored this theme in book chapters and journal articles on AIDS activism and policies, health, gender and sexuality and the politics of race and ethics in international health. In 2013 she published her scholarly monograph South African AIDS Activism and Global Health Politics with Palgrave Macmillan as part of their Global Ethics series.

  • Community Panel on HIV and AIDS Advocacy in the Lehigh Valley
    November, date TBA

The speaker series began with a talk on September 14, "When Projects End: The Afterlives of HIV Prevention in Peru," by Justin Perez, Assistant Professor of Latin American and Latino Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz.