Salt Lake City has been chosen as the first stop on the 1989 U.S.-Canadian tour of the NAMES Project quilt, a memorial to people who have died from AIDS, officials said.

The giant quilt has 8,288 panels, weighs 16 tons and represents AIDS deaths in 50 states and 13 foreign countries.The Salt Lake AIDS Foundation and the People with AIDS Coalition of Utah are seeking $5,000 to sponsor the showing of 576 panels, or 1/16th of the quilt, at the Salt Palace March 16-19.

The organizations hope the display will illustrate the impact of the AIDS epidemic by personalizing the grim statistics. The tour is an effort to raise money and encourage support for people with AIDS and their loved ones.

Ben Barr, AIDS Foundation director, said there have been 176 cases of AIDS reported in Utah. He said the quilt "provides a really safe, non-threatening way to educate kids about AIDS."

Each panel has the name of a person who has died from AIDS and was sewn by friends and relatives of the deceased.

David Sharpton, founder and a director of the AIDS Foundation, said the quilt is a source of strength. "For those of us who have AIDS, the quilt is a part of us," Sharpton says. "Reality is that one day there will be a panel with our names."

Barr said Mayor Palmer DePaulis has pledged his support and the organizations will also be seeking private and corporate donations.