THOUSANDS converged on Melbourne’s Federation Square this evening for the Candlelight Vigil as part of the 20th International AIDS Conference taking place in the city this week.

A tradition of the international AIDS conferences that occur every two years, the purpose of the Candlelight Vigil is to highlight and remember over 35 million people who have been lost as a result of HIV or AIDS-related causes, as well as to celebrate scientific and medicinal advances, and policy and community in the fight against HIV and AIDS.

The vigil was also a chance to raise awareness and to acknowledge how much more is needed to be done in the fight eradicate HIV and AIDS, and to remember the AIDS 2014 delegates who died en route to Melbourne on the Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 that was shot down in Ukraine last week.

Highlights of the vigil included seeing Federation Square being lit up in a sea of candles, and the live entertainment that included a performance from Lucy Durack and Jemma Rix, who play Glinda and Elphaba respectively in the current Melbourne production of Wicked.

Other entertainment included performances by the Melbourne Gay and Lesbian Chorus, Melbourne Gay and Lesbian Youth Chorus, and Dani Sib.

Speeches were also presented by representatives of Melbourne Council, Living Positive Victoria’s ENUF campaign, UNAIDS, International Community of Women living with HIV/AIDS, Victorian Health Minister David Davis and the trans* community — all of whom addressed the need for zero discrimination, zero stigma and the need to raise awareness while also honouring those who have been lost.

The vigil took place after parts of Melbourne CBD came to stand still with the mobilisation march, which saw thousands march from the Convention Centre to Federation Square via Flinders St in a protest calling for more funding to HIV and AIDS research and for an end to HIV stigma and discrimination.

The march also paused at a busy pedestrian intersection in front of Flinders Street Station for a moment of silence in remembrance of those who have been lost to HIV and AIDS-related causes.

Full photo gallery coming soon.

(Main image credit: David Alexander; Star Observer)


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