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International Aids Candlelight Memorial

Started in 1983, the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial takes place every third Sunday in May and is led by a coalition of some 1,200 community organizations in 115 countries.
19 May. 2012 11:08 PM IST

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 mobilization campaigns for HIV awareness in the world. Started in 1983, the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial takes place every third Sunday in May and is led by a coalition of some 1,200 community organizations in 115 countries.
The International AIDS Candlelight Memorial is much more than just a memorial. The International AIDS Candlelight Memorial serves as a community mobilization campaign to raise social consciousness about HIV and AIDS. With 34 million people living with HIV today, the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial serves as an important intervention for global solidarity, breaking down barriers of stigma and discrimination, and giving hope to new generations.
History
The Candlelight Memorial began in 1983 during a time of confusion and misconception about a mysterious disease sweeping the gay community in San Francisco in the United States. Knowing they would die within the year and with no political support, four young men – Bobbi Campbell, Bobby Reynolds, Dan Turner and Mark Feldman – decided to put a “face on the disease” by coordinating a small vigil behind a banner reading “Fighting For Our Lives.”
The original coordinators planned a march down the Castro District to City Hall and created a poster. As others joined in, the Candlelight drew thousands, beginning a movement that would inspire countless other people living with HIV and AIDS in other countries to bring HIV into the light for communities and national leaders, to foster support, and move people to action.
Since that day, now for almost 29 years, the Candlelight Memorial has brought together people in every region of the world to honor those lost to AIDS, support people living with HIV and demonstrate the importance of civil society, which plays a central role in HIV treatment, prevention, care and support. Organized annually on the third Sunday of May, over time tens of thousands Memorial events have been held involving millions of people.
Mission
The mission of the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial is to honor, support, and advocate for those who have been affected by the global HIV epidemic through mobilizing communities for a world where people do not die of AIDS and people living with HIV can live in health and with dignity.
Leadership
The International AIDS Candlelight Memorial is lead by grass roots civil society, including networks and organisations of people living with HIV and other key populations, affected families and communities, as well as women organizations, service organizations, academic institutions, health-care facilities, faith-based groups, businesses, media, and more.
Direction of the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial is based on the Candlelight Advocacy Platform, which is inspired on current thinking to improve the HIV response, including the UNAIDS strategy Getting to Zero: Zero AIDS related Deaths, Zero new HIV infections and Zero Stigma and discrimination, and the Positive Health, Dignity and Prevention framework as driven by the movement of people living with HIV.
Global coordination of the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial lies with the Global Network of People living with HIV.
Goals
The International AIDS Candlelight Memorial is a global event implemented by an active network of people involved in the HIV response, including people living with HIV and key populations, to raise social consciousness about HIV and AIDS, break down barriers of stigma and discrimination, and giving hope to new generations
The International AIDS Candlelight Memorial provides opportunity:
• To commemorate loved ones who have lost their lives to HIV.
• To show solidarity with people living with HIV.
• To raise awareness around HIV within society;
• To reduce HIV related stigma and discrimination;
• To reduce stigma and discrimination against key populations, including men who have sex with men, people who use drugs, sex workers and young people.
Values
The Candlelight Memorial is guided by the core values of dignity, diversity, transparency, global solidarity, and professional and personal integrity.
Mobilization & Advocacy Campaign
For many organizers community mobilization for the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial begins on World AIDS Day, 1 December, and ends with the international memorial in May.
Coordinating Organizations
Coordinating Organizations are the community-based groups and networks organizing the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial around the world. Coordinating organizations are diverse and include networks and organisations of people living with HIV and other key populations, affected families and communities, as well as women organizations, service organizations, academic institutions, health-care facilities, faith-based groups, businesses, media, and more.
The Memorials
Memorials range from small community vigils to multi-day national commemorations. In addition to remembrance, many coordinating organizations use the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial as an opportunity to promote local HIV services, encourage education and community dialogue, and advocate for the advancement of public policy. Memorials often include lighting of candles, marches, speeches, dramatic performances, spiritual and cultural rituals, and a safe space for interaction and community engagement.
Regional and National Leadership
Leadership by people living with HIV and those affected by HIV is an important part of the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial. Historically the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial was started by people living with HIV “to give a face to the epidemic”.
Today, coordinating organizations are diverse and include networks and organisations of people living with HIV and other key populations, affected families and communities, as well as women organizations, service organizations, academic institutions, health-care facilities, faith-based groups, businesses, media, and more.
In the support structure of the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial, national coordinators lead the Candlelight in their countries, working with community coordinating organizations to develop their community events. A number of national coordinators also function as regional coordinators and are members of the International Advisory Board representing each world region where the program takes place.
Candlelight Advocacy Platform
The International AIDS Candlelight Memorial is committed to ending HIV by raising awareness and advocating for the advancement of effective policies at all levels. The Candlelight Advocacy Platform is derived from the Global Advocacy Agenda which has been the advocacy agenda of the HIV activist movement since 1999. In addition, the Candlelight Advocacy Platform is inspired on current thinking to improve the HIV response, including the UNAIDS strategy Getting to Zero: Zero AIDS related Deaths, Zero new HIV infections and Zero Stigma and discrimination, and the Positive Health, Dignity and Prevention framework as driven by the movement of people living with HIV.
Key issue areas for the Candlelight Advocacy Platform are:
Ensuring Access to Treatment, Prevention & Care
Globally 7 million people living with HIV are on treatment, while 15 million people are in urgent need of HIV treatment, prevention and care services. Even in places where basic HIV services are available, social and structural barriers such as poverty, marginalization, stigma and discrimination all influence the access of communities and individuals to these services.
The Candlelight Memorial urges leaders to ensure all communities have equal access to HIV treatment and testing; evidence-based prevention; and care and support. Specific attention should be given to the needs of orphans and vulnerable children, young people, men who have sex with men, sex workers and people who use drugs.
Reducing Stigma & Discrimination
Communities around the world face HIV-related stigma, discrimination and human rights violations, particularly people living with HIV and key populations such as men who have sex with men, people who use drugs, sex workers and young people.
The International AIDS Candlelight Memorial urges community, faith and political leaders to fight discrimination through protecting the rights of affected groups and individuals, and fostering a supportive legal and policy environment.
Increasing Resources for HIV, Malaria, Tuberculosis and Other Related Issues
The needs of communities affected by HIV by far outpace the current resources allocated to meet them. The International AIDS Candlelight Memorial urges leaders to scale up their commitments to adequately address the scope and depth of HIV, including other burdens accompanying or enhancing its spread such as TB, malaria, sexually-transmitted diseases and opportunistic infections, and other contributing social and economic challenges.
Promoting Greater Involvement by People Living with HIV and Key Populations
Communities of people living with and affected by HIV are often neglected in the decision-making processes that aim to assist them in the first place. The GIPA principle calls for the Greater Involvement of People living with HIV in decisions and policies which influence their lives and has been internationally recognized since the Paris Summit of 1994.
The International AIDS Candlelight Memorial urges leaders to incorporate the voice of people living with and affected by HIV in the formulation of policy, as well as in the design and implementation of programmes. Their experience and opinions are essential to the global HIV response. This includes promoting the empowerment of women, young people and key populations.
International AIDS Candlelight Memorial 2012: “Promoting Health and Dignity Together”
Promoting Health and Dignity Together is the theme of the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial 2012. The theme aims to raise awareness around HIV and to promote respect for the human rights of people living with HIV.
The theme Promoting Health and Dignity Together is inspired by the Positive Health, Dignity and Prevention framework which are a people-centered and human rights based approach to the HIV response.
100,000 people in 115 countries will be celebrating the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial on Sunday 20 May 2012. Health, faith and community-based organizations in some 115 countries will use the event to remember those who have lost their lives to AIDS, to support those living with HIV and affected by its impact and spur calls to greater action from all actors in the HIV response.
This year’s theme “Promoting Health and Dignity Together” carries a lot of meaning. The theme focuses on the fact that the HIV response will only be successful when it is an effort that is supported by and addresses the needs of all those affected by HIV, including all people living with HIV key populations such as men who have sex with men, people who use drugs, and sex workers, as well as women and young people The theme emphasizes that health and well being of an individual cannot be achieved without respecting a person’s dignity and promoting and protecting the human rights of all.
According to the most recent UNAIDS statistics, around 34 million people are living with HIV globally. Increasing access to HIV treatment has aided efforts to stabilize the epidemic, but still every year 1.8 million people die of AIDS related diseases, while some 2.7 million new people become infected. Annually at least 390,000 children are born with HIV. With 34 million people living with HIV today, the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial serves as an important intervention for global solidarity, breaking down barriers of stigma and discrimination, and giving hope to new generations. More than just a memorial, it serves as a community mobilization campaign to raise social consciousness.
The International AIDS Candlelight Memorial is a vivid reminder of our continuous battle against a very deadly disease. People participating in this year’s International AIDS Candlelight Memorial called for governments and stakeholder agencies to ensure more people have access to better health services, HIV treatment and national and state governments to do more to support the human rights of people living with HIV and no longer tolerate stigma and discrimination. HIV/AIDS response will only be successful when it is an effort that is supported by and addresses the needs of all those infected and affected by HIV.
The current prevalence rate of HIV/AIDS of Nagaland is 0.78% (as per the data’s of Nagaland State AIDS Control Society). With 12, 879 HIV+ cases in Nagaland and particularly 4096 positive cases in Dimapur district (as per the data’s of NSACS & District AIDS Prevention & Control Unit (DAPCU), Dimapur respectively) and more than 3200 & 1700 on Antiretroviral therapy (ART) treatment in Nagaland and Dimapur (as per the data’s of NSACS & DAPCU, Dimapur from beginning till March, 2012), and AIDS related cases reported since 1994 till March 2012 is 4433 and a total of AIDS related death are 602 (as per the data’s of Nagaland State AIDS Control Society), the needs for intervention and collaboration is much anticipated from every section of the society. HIV/AIDS is not only the problem of NGO’s, CBO’s, Health department etc. but it’s the collective responsibility of every one.
Joining with the rest of the world, the Dimapur Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS (DNP+) and the District AIDS Prevention and Control Unit (DAPCU) of Dimapur will be observing the 29th International AIDS Candlelight Memorial and would like to take this time to remember all its pioneer and founding members under whose ceaseless effort and love for people living with HIV (PLHIV) community have formed networks for PLHIV and also common platform for PLHIV.
Their love, care, encouragement and contribution for the Network and the PLHIV community will always remain in the hearts of the network members and salute them all for the footprint that they have left and also remembers all its members those who are infected and affected with HIV on the occasion of Candlelight Memorial. GOD BLESS!!!
“We are One, after all, you and I, together we suffer, together exist. And forever will recreate each other”
Yanger Aier, Management Information System Officer (MISO), RCC - PACT, Dimapur Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS (DNP+) Dimapur.

   
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Yanger Aier, Management Information System Officer (MISO)