SASOD Hosts 5th Annual AIDS Candlelight Memorial on Sunday

The Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) will be hosting its 5th annual AIDS Candlelight Memorial on Sunday, May 25, 2014, from 5:00 to 6:30 pm on the steps of the St. George’s Cathedral on North Road, Georgetown.

The event is much more than just a memorial, as it serves as a community mobilization campaign to raise social consciousness about HIV. The Candlelight Memorial brings together affected communities, policy makers, health professionals, religious leaders and members of the public to show solidarity and support for persons infected and affected by HIV; to encourage people to continue to act together, and to call on the public to end stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV, and key affected populations. Individuals are invited to show their support through dance, song and/or poetry.

Ms. Desiree Edghill, Vice-Chair of Guyana’s Country Coordinating Mechanism of the Global Fund to fight HIV, Tuberculosis and Malaria and Executive Director of Artistes in Direct Support, will deliver the feature address at this year’s Candlelight Memorial under the theme “Let’s Keep the Light on HIV.”

This year’s theme aims to be positive and forward-looking, whilst also recognizing that this remains a memorial event for many. In addition, with the post-2015 development agenda looming, and the imminent replenishment of the Global Fund, the theme speaks to the urgent need to ensure that HIV remains a priority for international policy makers and development agencies worldwide.

The International Candlelight Memorial is committed to ending HIV by raising awareness and advocating for the advancement of effective policies at all levels. Much has been done to improve and advance the HIV response in Guyana, however much more is still needed. SASOD is calling for equal access to treatment, prevention and care services for all Guyanese regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity. Stigma and discrimination - especially homophobia and transphobia – are barriers to accessing services for the communities we serve. There is an urgent need to end stigma, discrimination and human rights violations, affecting people living with HIV and key populations such as men who have sex with men, people who use drugs, sex workers and young people.

Coordinated by the Global Network of People living with HIV, the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial, which is in its 31st year, is one of the world’s oldest and largest grassroots mobilization campaigns for HIV awareness, annually.