People in 85 Countries Take Part in 19th Annual International AIDS Candlelight Memorial
People in more than 1,500 communities in 85 countries ranging from the United States to South Africa and Australia yesterday participated in the 19th International AIDS Candlelight Memorial. The theme for this year's event, which seeks to "honor the memory" of those who have died of AIDS-related causes while raising awareness and mobilizing support for HIV/AIDS initiatives, was "Share your vision for a brighter tomorrow." Participants were asked to "reflect on how the face of HIV/AIDS may change in the future to create a healthier world" and were encouraged to share their visions with their communities (International AIDS Candlelight Memorial Web site, 5/20). Summaries of events in some communities appear below:
- Bangalore, India: "Hundreds" of people in the Indian state of Bangalore joined in a candlelight march as Health and Family Minister A.B. Malaakaraddy called for increased funding to enable the government to provide antiretroviral drugs free of charge. He was joined by Police Commissioner H.T. Sangliana, who asked participants to show compassion for people living with HIV/AIDS (Hindu, 5/20).
- Canberra, Australia: About 150 people gathered at the National Museum of Australia to light floating candles in the museum's pools in honor of those who have died. Names of local people who had died of AIDS-related causes were read aloud, and panels from the Australian AIDS Memorial Quilt were on view (Boogs, Canberra Times, 5/20).
- Denver, Colo.: Nearly 100 people gathered on the steps of the state Capitol in Denver to remember those who had died and to view panels of the NAMES Project Foundation AIDS Memorial Quilt. Mayor Wellington Webb (D) addressed the crowd and "urged" listeners to remain vigilant in fighting the disease (Fong, Denver Rocky Mountain News, 5/20).
- Singapore: One hundred fifty AIDS activists gathered last night in Singapore to call on the government to subsidize antiretroviral treatment for people with HIV/AIDS. Singapore's government does not currently subsidize medications for HIV/AIDS and contends that the focus should remain on prevention and education instead of treatment. Many advocates say that the drugs are priced out of reach for the majority of those with the disease and argue that Singapore's wealthy government can afford to subsidize the cost for the nation's approximately 1,600 people with AIDS (Associated Press, 5/19).
- Tucson, Ariz.: About 150 people assembled at the Tucson Botanical Gardens last night to participate in the candlelight vigil (Araiza, Arizona Daily Star, 5/20).