On Sunday 15 May 2011, tens of thousands of people worldwide will light a candle on occasion of the 28th International AIDS Candlelight Memorial. Community-based organizations in some 115 countries will use the event to remember those who have lost their lives to AIDS-related illnesses, to support those living with HIV and affected by its impact and to spur calls to action for greater awareness.
In 2011, the Candlelight Memorial falls three weeks before the United Nations General Assembly High Level Meeting on AIDS (HLM). Ten years ago, UN member states committed to achieving universal access to treatment, prevention, care and support by 2010. Universal access has not been achieved, but HIV treatment is working to slow down the HIV epidemic. HIV treatment keeps people living with HIV healthy, more productive and lowers the risk of transmitting HIV to others. To improve the lives of people living with HIV, a successful High Level Meeting will be important.
In June 2011, the member states are coming together to review progress and chart the future course of the HIV response. Civil society and people living with HIV want the governments of the member states to commit to:
- Achieving universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support by 2015;
- Respecting, protecting and fulfilling the human rights of people living with, and those most affected by HIV;
- Introducing and promoting laws to protect the rights of people living with, and those most affected by HIV. Governments should review their laws, practices and policies and amend any that cause barriers to accessing HIV prevention, treatment, care and support services;
- Involving people living with HIV meaningfully in decisions on national, regional and global levels of the HIV response;
- Ensuring that country level HIV responses are transparent, accountable and inclusive of those most affected by HIV, particularly women and girls, young people, men who have sex with men, transgender people, sex workers and people who use drugs.
To find out more about the Candlelight Memorial and to find one near you, visit the website http://www.candlelightmemorial.org.