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30th Anniversary logo of the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial - www.candlelightmemorial.org

Standing in solidarity for health and rights: 30th International AIDS Candlelight Memorial

May 2013 - On Sunday the 19th of May, over 200,000 people worldwide will participate in the 30th International AIDS Candlelight Memorial. Communities from Armenia to Zimbabwe and in cities as far north as Reykjavik in Iceland and as far south as Punta Arenas in Chile will take time together to remember the loved ones we have lost to AIDS and to celebrate the lives of all those living with HIV through sometimes difficult circumstances.

The HIV response has entered a critical phase. More people than ever are accessing much-needed treatment for their own health. We also now know that increasing access to HIV treatment for people in need significantly reduces the risk of HIV transmission to their partners and unborn children of people living with HIV. UNAIDS data show that as global access to HIV treatment increased, the growth of the epidemic has slowed down . For the first time global leaders actually dare to consider how an investment in the health of people living with HIV will contribute to an end to AIDS.

Meanwhile, more and more countries have begun to recognise the significance and value of civil society in contributing to the HIV response. Upholding the rights and dignity of people living with HIV is necessary - now more than ever - and civil society plays an important role in pushing for access to treatment, tackling HIV-related stigma and discrimination, and ensuring that human rights violations do not occur. Community engagement ensures that accountability leads to an ever-improving HIV response that upholds the principles of "Positive Health, Dignity, and Prevention ."

This year's event will be the 30th International AIDS Candlelight Memorial. This is, however, no reason for celebration. When the AIDS Candlelight Memorial was held first in 1983, no one could have predicted the scale of the global epidemic. With millions of lives lost and around 33 million people currently living with HIV, HIV remains a challenging reality. While for many people HIV has become a chronic disease, many others lack access to treatment and experience HIV-related stigma, discrimination and human rights violations on a daily basis. The International AIDS Candlelight Memorial reminds us of the impact that HIV has on our lives locally and globally.

Under the theme "In Solidarity", the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial aims to emphasise the need for people living with and affected by HIV to stand together for health and rights. Only together can we advocate for quality treatment, prevention, care and support for all those who need it to stay healthy, exercise their rights and, in the process, contribute to getting to zero.

Background:
The International AIDS Candlelight Memorial, coordinated by the Global Network of People living with HIV, is one of the world's oldest and largest grassroots mobilisation campaigns for HIV awareness in the world. Started in 1983, the Candlelight Memorial takes place every third Sunday in May and is led by community, health and faith organisations in 115 countries. With 33 million people living with HIV today, the Candlelight serves as an important intervention for global solidarity, reducing stigma and discrimination and giving hope to new generations. The evaluation of last year's Candlelight Memorial showed that over 200,000 people participated in the event.

For many organisers community mobilisation for the Candlelight Memorial begins on World AIDS Day, 1 December, and ends with the international memorial in May. Coordinating organisations are diverse and include networks of people living with HIV, women organisations, networks of key populations, service organisations, academic institutions, health-care facilities, faith-based groups, businesses, media, and more.

Memorials range from small community vigils to multi-day national commemorations. In addition to remembrance, many coordinating organisations use the Candlelight Memorial as an opportunity to promote local HIV services, encourage education and community dialogue, and advocate for the advancement of public policy.

The leadership of people living with HIV and those most affected by HIV is a critical aspect of the Candlelight Memorial. Being driven by communities is what makes this event so unique and important.

About the Global Network of People living with HIV (GNP+): GNP+ is the global network for and by people living with HIV. GNP+ advocates to improve the quality of life of people living with HIV. Driven by the needs of people living with HIV worldwide, GNP+ supports people living with HIV through their organisations and networks. GNP+ works to ensure equitable access to health and social services, by focusing on social justice, rights and more meaningful involvement of people living with HIV in programme and policy development - the GIPA principle. www.gnpplus.net

For more information about the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial: Please contact a National or Regional Coordinator in your area. For a full list of National Coordinators: http://www.candlelightmemorial.org/get-involved/national-coordinators . For a full list of Regional Coordinators: http://www.candlelightmemorial.org/get-involved/regional-coordinators


"Reproduced with permission - Global Network of People living with HIV (GNP+)"

Global Network of People living with HIV (GNP+)
www.gnpplus.net


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