On Sunday the 20th of May between 6.00pm-7.00pm the 29th International AIDS Candle Light Memorial event will be at Robertson Park North Perth. The theme this year is ‘Promoting Health and Dignity Together’. Apart from raising awareness around HIV, the theme is focused on a response to HIV that is based on a human rights approach. All human beings have the right to life and therefore a right to health; in the context of a HIV response, thus people have the right to access medication and prevention services so that they can live. This is a simplified example of a human rights based approach to the HIV response. For a more detailed listing of declared rights for people living with HIV go to napwa.org.au/files/declaration_of_rights.pdf.
This year the event is being organised by committed community individuals and supported by the Sisters of the Abbey of the Black Swan, National Association of People Living with HIV/AIDS (NAPWA) and the WA AIDS Council. Diane Lloyd who is currently on the board of NAPWA will be the Master of Ceremonies. Weather permitting, the WA AIDS Quilt will also be on display and a Tibetan ritual of remembrance will be performed.
What is the value in having an International AIDS Candle Light Memorial? For some people the opportunity to reflect on past loved ones at a community event is part of appreciating the love received from them. For others the AIDS Candle Light Memorial and World AIDS Day is an opportunity to acknowledge a truth and life experience that is profound, spiritual, and in the early days of the epidemic denied and suppressed. Some members of the community value these events as a way of remembering a time when the LGBTI’s communities rallied and fought together for their right to be, for our right to life and health saving medication. These events can mark a real and tangible victory in being recognised and affirmed.
HIV is very much a global epidemic so attending the International AIDS Candle Light Memorial is a way to demonstrate international solidarity with all people living with and affected by HIV worldwide. You are invited to join this reflective community event. By Cipri Martinez