Left Behind: HIV/AIDS and the Deaf Community

Open in Chapel Hall during regular museum hours through December 1, 2023

This exhibition recounts the history of the HIV/AIDS crisis as it was experienced by the Deaf community. Because news, health information, and support networks were not accessible in American Sign Language until several years after the pandemic began, hundreds of Deaf people – nearly all of them gay men – died of AIDS. Now, more than 40 years after the crisis began, d/Deaf people still face difficulties getting information about PrEP and HIV treatment, and continue to encounter both societal barriers and a lack of understanding from the medical establishment.

Left Behind: HIV/AIDS and the Deaf Community focuses heavily on the AIDS Memorial Quilt, begun in 1987 by hearing activist Cleve Jones. A Black Deaf gay man, Reggie Hightower, was one of the first people commemorated on the quilt. Since then, dozens more panels have been made for members of the Deaf community. In December 2022, four blocks of the quilt accompanied the exhibition, and the Gallaudet community will contribute to the quilt during 2023.

Special Thanks

Drago Renteria

Tabitha Jacques

Office of University Communications

Office of the President