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International AIDS Candlelight Memorial Day

The International AIDS Candlelight Memorial Day has been held annually every third Sunday in May since 1983. On May 17, 2015 around 1200 organizations in 115 countries gathered to commemorate those who died from AIDS and to raise awareness about HIV. The official theme of the campaign worldwide was ‘Supporting the future’ dedicated to calling on the communities around the world to unite and demand a sustainable response to AIDS.

In 2013 there were 35,5 million HIV positive people, and 1.5 million people died from AIDS-related causes, according to UNAIDS. The people living with HIV and AIDS often face lack of access to equal treatment, support and respect. A lot of them face stigma and criminalization, especially such vulnerable groups as sex workers. The latter face higher risk of HIV due to criminalization of their work, violence and discrimination by medical institutions and the police. Therefore, it is important that sex workers organizations and harm reduction organizations join the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial Day to express their solidarity with sex-workers living with HIV/AIDS.

On May 17, several SWAN members either organized or joined commemoration and awareness raising actions in their towns.

Budapest, Hungary. Representatives of SZEXE joined a Candlelight vigil to honor HIV positive people, and those living with AIDS under the theme :Support the Future!” The participants lighted the candles, had some short speeches and talks about the possible future of HIV-positive people and people living with AIDS in Hungary. There were also HIV tests available during the event. 

Moscow, Russia. On May 15, 2015 The Moscow Research and Practice Centre of Addictology together with “Shagi” Foundation organized the first street action in 2015 on prevention and awareness raising on socially significant diseases. There was a possibility to test oneself for HIV and hepatitis C during the event. Also, on May 17 the “Shagi” Foundation participated in the memorial service dedicated to those who died from AIDS, held in the Danilov Monastery.

Kyrgyzstan. “Tais Plus” joined the online flash mob dedicated to the Day of Commemoration of the dead from AIDS and people living with HIV, initiated by the “Unity” Association of people who live with HIV. The motto of the event was "Zero discrimination towards HIV! I know! I support! I join!" A number of organizations and individuals joined the action by making themed photos with the poster that had the motto of the flash mob.

Belgrade, Serbia. On May 17 the members of Sloboda Prava / Equal Rights joined the event in Belgrade dedicated to the International Day Remembrance of those who died from HIV/AIDS. 

Bucharest and Arad, Romania. On May 17, 2015 Romanian Association Against AIDS ARAS organized events within The International AIDS Candlelight Memorial Day in Bucharest and Arad. In Bucharest Herastrau Park 6619 candles in memory of all those who died of AIDS in Romania were lit. The purpose of the ritual candle lighting is paying homage to all Romanian citizens who died from AIDS, to support children and adults living with HIV / AIDS, as well as to call for increased prevention and solidarity among the rest of the people. ARAS volunteers talked with the participants about the importance of this day They were also distributing brochures and red ribbons - a symbol of the international fight against AIDS and solidarity with HIV-positive people.

Sofia, Bulgaria. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is withdrawing its financial support for Bulgaria at the end of 2015. The NGOs drafted a Manifesto whose slogan is “Let us help Bulgaria remain a country with low HIV prevalence! Let us continue the successful national response to the AIDS epidemic!”, and this Manifesto was promoted during the 17th of May campaign.