When the first “International AIDS Candlelight Memorial” was held in 1983, the cause of Aids was not even known, and only a few thousand people had died. The original organisers wanted to honour the memory of those who died, while at the same time showing their support to those living with the disease. Since then, more than 28 million lives have been lost to the pandemic, while more than 42 million people live with the virus. The purpose and nature of the memorial on the third Sunday of May has not however changed.
This occasion has become a visible way in which communities can grieve for the loss of loved ones and at the same time show their involvement in the pandemic. It is an opportunity for increased awareness and understanding and can encourage greate community involvement.