Yesterday’s Aids Candlelight Memorial Day hosted by the George Municipality and held at Unity Park during a warm winter’s Sunday afternoon proved to be an enjoyable event with a gospel vibe which had those attending singing along and clapping.
International AIDS Candlelight Memorial Day is celebrated on the third Sunday of May each year, to commemorate those who have passed on, and celebrate victories such as increased access to treatment and prevention services and PLWA’s that adhere. It is also an opportunity to promote education and awareness and to reduce stigma and discrimination by raising awareness.
George Municipality celebrates this day annually, to show its support to people living with HIV and affected families who lost love ones due to AIDS related illnesses. This year the day was held in the form of a Musical festival aimed at various youth groups within the community, with the theme of “Intensifying the fight for Health and Rights” and which included spiritual messages, music items from different church youth groups, motivational talks, the lighting of candles and a pledge.
Executive Mayor Melvin Naik addressed the crowd and noted that it was an honour to be asked to participate. The mayor thanked those working in the health sector and support groups in the communities for the role they play in providing people with access to HIV testing, treatment and prevention services. “It is because of you that mothers living with HIV can still raise healthy children free of the virus because of your prescription and distribution of antiretroviral medicines. It is because of you that women infected with HIV can set up businesses to support their families. Its because of you who are leading this fight, that there is a response to the epidemic,” said Ald Naik.
Cllr Sean Snyman appealed to young men and women to act responsibly and to become educated in the dangers of promiscuity. “We are sitting in a society today where HIV AIDS is still being stigmatized and because of this stigmitization, HIV AIDS has been permitted to become an epidemic. I am proud to say I know my status and I encourage everyone to do the same, however unless our communities and our youth take a stand against marginalization and stigmatizm of people living with HIV AIDS, we will continue losing lives unneccessarily because people are still too afraid to be tested.” he said.
Caption: Executive Mayor Melvin Naik, Portfolio Councillor for Community Development and Social Services, Sean Snyman and George Local Aids Council Chairperson, Choice Somagaca light candles in memory of all people who have passed on because of HIV. Somagaca while lighting the candle said that her purpose and the purpose of everyone attending, should be to raise a generation who are free of HIV.