18 May 2010
Religious leaders today addressed a small gathering of people in the city living with HIV and lighted a candle of love in the hearts of those present at a rally, held to commemorate International Candlleight Memorial Day .
Addressing the gathering of about 200 people, which included about 80 HIV positive children, women and adults, Moulana Abdul Mohammad Ibrahim said, “As we remember and uphold all those who lost their lives to HIV, I pray for a healthy life for those who are living with HIV. It is denial and discrimination that kills them. If they get love, they can live longer and they can live a healthy life.” Sister Sahaya Mary, the other religious leader present, spoke on similar lines quoting from Bible that it was everyone's duty to respect the dignity of life of every human being.
“We have to love People living with HIV. Stigma will kill people, love provides life to the dying,” she said.
Bangalore HIV and AIDS Forum (BAHF), a coalition of over 40 civil society organisations, NGOs and community based organisations like positive networks and sex workers' collectives, organised the programme.
International Candlelight Memorial was observed in 103 countries on the third Sunday of May, and People Living with HIV, gathered in Bangalore for the seventh successive year. Candlelight Memorial is observed to remember those who lost their lives to HIV, to support those living with HIV and to create awareness among general population about HIV.
In Karnataka about 2.5 lakh people were estimated to be living with HIV but more than half of them are not aware that they are HIV positive.
“Today, we demand that HIV and AIDS Bill be introduced in Parliament, so that those who practice stigma and discrimanation towards HIV positive people can be punished,” William Christapher of BHAF said.
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