AIDS Candlelight Vigil both honours and calls for action

TORONTO, June 24 /CNW/ - Over two thousand community activists, artists, politicians, friends and family gathered tonight to honour those who have died of HIV/AIDS and to call on the world's leaders to fight the stigma, homophobia and discrimination around HIV/AIDS throughout the world.

As the world's leaders are gathering in Toronto, this year's AIDS Candlelight Vigil focused on the needs of people living with HIV/AIDS around the world who still have no access to HIV medication. "We see this as an opportunity to remind the world's most powerful leaders of their commitment to universal access. People living with HIV/AIDS around the world need access to treatment," said Paul Law, Co-Chair of the Vigil Organizing Committee.

At the 2005 G8 Summit in Gleneagles, the leaders committed to "develop and implement a package for HIV prevention, treatment and care, with the aim of as close as possible to universal access to treatment for all those who need it by 2010."

This year's Vigil was co-hosted by Maureen Owina, a mother and community activist who immigrated to Canada from Kenya and Omar Torres, a community activist who immigrated to Canada from El Salvador.

"Pride Toronto is celebrating their 30th anniversary this year and their key message is 'You Belong'. We are sending a message to all the people around the world living with HIV/AIDS that they not only belong, but we stand beside them in the fight for universal access to medication," stated Vigil co-hosts Maureen Owina.

Throughout the Vigil, participants were treated to performances from GLAD Voices, Peter Stuckless, Kevin Nelson, Gary Logie, Deidrey Francois and Singing Out.

ABOUT THE AIDS VIGIL:

The AIDS Candlelight Vigil is an open community event held annually at the AIDS Memorial to remember, honour and celebrate the people who have died of AIDS or AIDS related illnesses, or who have given their lives in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Every year, thousands of candles are lit to honour and remember those who have died, and to encourage and support others who live with this disease every day.

SOURCE The 519 Church Street Community Centre

For further information: For further information: www.the519.org/events/aidsvigil; Matthew Cutler, The 519: mcutler@the519.org, 647.248.2199; Todd Ross, Organizing Committee: tross@caseyhouse.on.ca, 416.505.4740

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The 519 Church Street Community Centre

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