Pictorial: Sri Lanka marks Global AIDS Week of Action with Candle Light Vigil

Candle Light Vigil to commemorate the Global AIDS Week of Action

By Dushiyanthini Kanagasabapathipillai

Positive Hopes Alliance and Three Wheel Drivers’ Collective against the spread of HIV and AIDS, two recently formed organizations supported by Action Aid to combat stigma and discrimination towards people living with HIV and AIDS in Sri Lanka, celebrated the candlelight ceremony to commemorate the Global Aids Week of Action on June 01 st 2007 at the welfare community centre at Anderson Flats, Colombo 05. Several activists participated at the vigil held at dusk.

In Sri Lanka, the candlelight ceremony was facilitated by Action Aid aims to raise awareness on the perspectives and priorities of people living with the virus well as to help maintain pressure on G8 countries to honour their 2005 pledge of universal treatment for all. The G8, the club of the eight richest countries will meet in Heiligendamm, Germany , next week (6-8 June).

“This is not just a ceremony where we want to raise awareness on HIV and AIDS and break stigma and discrimination in this country. It is also about campaigning for what governments promised two years ago, universal treatment for all,” said Action Aid HIV/AIDS coordinator Rangapali Ranaweera

“In Sri Lanka we have started working with three wheel drivers as they can play a very important role on awareness raising and tackling stigma and discrimination. They are in contact with people from different backgrounds all the time and in that sense a well informed driver can be a fantastic tool to discuss informally about HIV related issues and promote some kind of social debate,” said Action Aid HIV/AIDS coordinator Rangapali Ranaweera.

Governments worldwide are falling behind the internationally-accepted targets for AIDS treatment. “With more than 8,000 deaths and 15,000 new infections in the world everyday, there’s definitely a need for action,” affirmed Thilominie Chandrasekara from Positive Hopes. “In Sri Lanka the reported cases are only amounted to about 1,000 but the estimated figure is about 4,500. However, our country gathers some factors that can fuel the HIV epidemic such as the low level of awareness about HIV and AIDS or the risk behaviors which are on the rise.”

There are only 1,000 reported cases in Sri Lanka, but the estimated figure is 4,500 according to the recent reports

HIV/AIDS activist demonstrates how to use a condom

Space Design street drama group performs a drama to create awareness on HIV/AIDS

Kids enjoy the drama

AIDS quilt is being unfurled by activists

Sign for AIDS on the quilt

Candles are being lit by the participants

Candle light ceremony to commemorate the Global AIDS week of Action

Candles are lit to pay tribute to those who dies of AIDS all around the globe

A child lights a candle to pay tribute

Candle light vigil brought a climate of emotion in the venue

Source: humanityashore

Contact: Dushi.Pillai@gmail.com

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