IOM Advocacy Campaign on the occasion of the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial

IOM Advocacy Campaign on the occasion of the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial

Started in 1983, the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial takes place every third Sunday in May and is led by a coalition of some 1,200 community organizations in 115 countries.

The Memorial is committed to ending HIV by raising awareness and advocating for the advancement of effective policies at all levels. The Candlelight Advocacy Platform (CAP) is derived from the Global Advocacy Agenda which has been the advocacy agenda of the HIV activist movement since 1999. In addition, the CAP is inspired on current thinking to improve the HIV response, including the UNAIDS strategy Getting to Zero AIDS-related Deaths, Zero New HIV Infections and Zero Stigma and Discrimination, and the Positive Health, Dignity and Prevention framework as driven by the movement of people living with HIV.

IOM’s NGO partners in Khatlon region and Dushanbe conducted public events dedicated to the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial Day and mobilized community leaders, migrant workers and their family members to advocate for the rights of people living with HIV. Volunteers with “Akhtari Bakht”, an NGO in Qurghon Teppa, organized informational sessions on HIV among community residents as well as a classical music concert by young musicians. The events concluded with prayer in a mosque for those who died of AIDS.

NGO “Center Positive” conducted awareness-raising campaign among migrants at the international airport of Dushanbe and volunteers organized a quick quiz competition on HIV/TB prevention and legal aspects of migration. Migrants who took part in the campaign and quiz received condoms and information materials advertising the IOM Hotline on legal consultations, and volunteers distributed small gifts to the winners of the quiz. Twenty one lanterns at the end of the event were released into the night sky to commemorate people who have died of AIDS in Dushanbe.

Both AIDS and TB Control Centres are responding to the threat of spreading HIV and TB among migrants by organizing and conducting free Voluntary Consultation and HIV Test (VCT) as well as TB diagnostic, in close cooperation with the Migration Service and IOM. During the event in the international airport some 96 people took part in free VCT and 113 individuals accessed TB diagnostic with one, positive TB case detected.

These grassroots events organized by IOM and partners reminded people that no one is safe from AIDS and that awareness on HIV and AIDS, access to VCT, retroviral therapy, and support for people living with HIV could contribute to eventually ending the HIV epidemic.