We are delighted to announce a launch of an online exhibit, Shanti Projects: Histories of Shanti Project and the AIDS Crisis curated by University of Minnesota American Studies graduate student Brendan McHugh. It documents Shanti Project’s AIDS care work during the early decades of the AIDS crisis. Since 1974 Shanti has provided psychosocial peer support counseling to people with life-threatening illnesses and their loved ones in the San Francisco Bay Area of California. During the early years of the AIDS crisis, Shanti rose to the challenge by creating groundbreaking services for people living with AIDS/HIV. For much of the 1980s and 1990s Shanti was one of the largest AIDS organizations in the U.S. The plurality of the exhibit’s title reflects the vast array of people’s experiences at Shanti during that time period, as well as those who work with Shanti today. Visit the exhibit at https://shantiprojects.dash.umn.edu.
Shanti Projects is organized to reflect the process of becoming involved with Shanti as a volunteer. Alongside the main exhibit are three multimedia pages showcasing the work of photographers Judi Iranyi, Mariella Poli, and Jim Wigler and their portraits of people with AIDS/HIV who played important roles with Shanti. In the future, the final page Active Listening will provide audio clips from oral histories conducted for this project with accompanying transcripts to follow. Additional materials and sources have been provided by The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Historical Society, University of California, San Francisco, and generous interviewees personal materials.
There will also be a newsletter published monthly to announce updates on new material and events connected to the exhibit. Please sign up through the link on the exhibit website. For more information contact Brendan McHugh at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is a guest post by exhibit curator Sabrina Oliveros
When HIV/AIDS first seized the nation’s attention in the early 1980s, it was a disease with no name, known cause, treatment, or cure. Beginning as a medical mystery, it turned into one of the most divisive social and political issues of the 20th century.
October 1, 2019, UCSF Archives & Special Collections is opening the exhibit
They Were Really Us: The UCSF Community’s Early Response to AIDS.
Featuring materials from the Archives’ extensive AIDS History Project Collections, the show highlights ways individual
professionals affiliated with UCSF acted to address HIV/AIDS following its
outbreak. Their responses included working in and with the larger San Francisco
community – and continue to impact HIV/AIDS care and research today.
exhibit title comes from a statement by Dr. Paul Volberding, who co-founded the
country’s first dedicated AIDS Clinic in 1983; he now serves as the Director of
patients were exactly our age… all those other ways that we tend to separate
ourselves meant very little when you realize that the patients had gone to the
same schools, they listened to the same music, they went to the same
restaurants. So they were really us… which added to the commitment that I think
all of us had.”
The first proofs of that
commitment are traced through displays on the main lobby (third floor) of the
Here, papers, slides,
photographs, and artifacts help outline early milestones in HIV/AIDS research
and care. These include the foundation of the Kaposi’s Sarcoma Clinic at UCSF, which
sought to understand the mysterious “cancer” that turned out to be AIDS; the
discovery of the HIV virus in 1983 by Dr. Jay Levy; the establishment of the
outpatient and inpatient AIDS clinics at San Francisco General Hospital; and
the development of the holistic San Francisco Model of AIDS Care.
Pioneering and compassionate,
this model treated people with AIDS not simply as patients requiring medical
attention, but as complex individuals also in need of psychological, social,
economic, and political support.
Excerpts from the diary of Bobbi
Campbell – a UCSF nursing student
who championed the People With AIDS Self-Empowerment Movement – help tell some
of these individual stories. So do a selection of newsletters and other
materials that lend voices to persons with AIDS.
loaned section of the AIDS Memorial Quilt caps off the displays.
outbreak of HIV/AIDS devastated the city of San Francisco; it also mobilized the
community. Exhibits on the first floor of the library showcase the work done by
community organizations that, beyond the medical front, fought HIV/AIDS.
of posters – mostly from UCSF’s longest-running partners, the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the Shanti Project – represent outreach and educational
campaigns necessary to combat the disease. Materials from Mobilization Against AIDS and the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power
(ACT-UP) speak to the political battle that AIDS became.
the fifth floor of the library, displays touch on two more milestones following
first, UCSF’s sponsoring of the 6th International Conference on
AIDS, is one of the many
examples of how physicians and researchers have expanded their work on a global
scale. Revisiting this 1990 conference is timely, as the 23rd
International Conference on AIDS
will take place in Oakland and San Francisco in July next year – the first time
the conference will be in the Bay Area in nearly three decades.
second milestone, the founding of the AIDS Research Institute in 1996, puts a
focus on the UCSF’s continuing efforts to find a cure, and end HIV/AIDS once
and for all.
From January 28th to March 9th, the National Libraries of Medicine’s traveling exhibit, Surviving and Thriving: AIDS, Politics, and Culture will be on display in the lobby of the main hospital (Building 25) at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital.
The exhibit is only available for six weeks, so be sure to visit as soon as you can!
The exhibition explores the rise of AIDS in the early 1980’s and the evolving response to the epidemic over the last 30 years.
The title Surviving and Thriving comes from a book written in 1987 by and for people with AIDS that insisted people could live with AIDS, not just die from it. Jennifer Brier, the exhibition curator, explains that “centering the experience of people with AIDS in the exhibition allows us to see how critical they were, and continue to be, in the political and medical fight against HIV/AIDS.”
Surviving and Thriving presents their stories alongside those of others involved in the national AIDS crisis. The six-banner traveling exhibition utilizes a variety of historic photographs as well as images of pamphlets and publications to illustrate how a group of people responded to, or failed to respond, to HIV/AIDS.
This exhibition was produced by the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health and curated by Jennifer Brier, PhD, University of Illinois.