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14 May 2004

Canberra's annual AIDS Candlelight Memorial takes on a new urgency this Sunday as HIV infection rates in Australia begin to rise again - and the International Memorial Day reaches its 21st year.

Organised in Canberra by the AIDS Action Council of the ACT, the memorial this Sunday May 16 begins with an ecumenical service at 5.30pm at All Saints Church in Ainslie.

At 7pm in the Studio of the National Museum of Australia the Gay and Lesbian Qwire will perform and guest speakers will include ACT Health Minister Simon Corbell. Panels of the Australian AIDS Memorial Quilt will be unfolded in the Museum's Hall and lighted candles in the grounds will represent those lost to AIDS-related illnesses.

Canberra has been participating in the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial for 16 years. It is the largest grassroots AIDS event, held worldwide on May 16 in more than 3000 communities in 85 countries. Co-ordinated by the Global Health Council, the annual event commemorates the lives lost to AIDS, demonstrates support for people living with HIV/AIDS and mobilises community responses to the infection.

'The Memorial, now in its 21st year, has sadly come of age,' said Joey Tabone, President of the AIDS Action Council.
'It is marked here in Canberra and by the lighting of candles and oil lamps in over 200 rural villages in Southeast India, processions in Latin America and inter-faith services in towns across America.'

'While globally we think of the 42 million people now living with HIV/AIDS, Sunday will allow our community to reflect upon the more than 80 Canberra friends and family members lost to HIV/AIDS. More than 300 people here are now infected and, with infection rates increasing elsewhere, we need to more vigilant now than ever.'

For interviews and more information contact Rebecca Davey, General Manager of the AIDS Action Council, on 0416 111840 or 02 6257 2855.

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