Candles burn brightly to highlight plight of HIV sufferers

HIV CANDLELIT VIGIL   l/r: Jean Rickard and Holly Dannhauser with Joy Beardsley of the Sheena Amos Youth Trust, light candles at the candlelit vigil at the winter Garden.   10 January 2010
HIV CANDLELIT VIGIL l/r: Jean Rickard and Holly Dannhauser with Joy Beardsley of the Sheena Amos Youth Trust, light candles at the candlelit vigil at the winter Garden. 10 January 2010
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IT may have been a month late, but the candles at Sheffield’s commemoration of World Aids Day burned as brightly as ever.

The planned ceremonies on December 1 were cancelled because of the snow but a small passionate crowd attended the rescheduled event at the Winter Garden.

Planned to remember those who have died from HIV and Aids, the event was also used to highlight the stigma and prejudice experienced by people living with the disease.

Sheffield Council’s health spokesman Coun Steve Ayris, who led the candlelit vigil, said: “There are 61,000 people in the UK diagnosed as having HIV. From this city there are 501 residents who are diagnosed HIV positive. That’s lower than the national average but the sadder fact is around 25 to 30 per cent of HIV infections go undiagnosed.”

Steve Slack, director of Sheffield Primary Care Trust’s centre for HIV and sexual health, said: “Tonight’s vigil is in part an opportunity for remembrance, reflection and contemplation.

“However, as important as reflection is, tonight’s event is more than just silent contemplation – tonight is about reminding ourselves that HIV has not gone away.”