This year’s AIDS Awareness Week will be launched with a public memorial service on Monday 25 November.

ACON president Adrian Lovney has called on people who have lost a loved one to HIV/AIDS to come forward and include the name in the memorial service.

The annual Candlelight Memorial is a time for many of us to reflect on our experiences of the HIV/AIDS epidemic and to remember our friends and loved ones, Lovney said.

The Reading of the Names is a significant part of the evening and I would encourage people to come forward with names for the list and to come along on the night to show support, Mr Lovney said.

The AIDS Candlelight Memorial will be held on Monday 25 November at 7:30pm at Green Park, Darlinghurst (across from St Vincent’s Hospital). To include names on the list to be read out, call 9206 2110 or email events@acon.org.au.

Ribbon-selling volunteers are needed later in the week to raise awareness and funds for HIV/AIDS research and to improve the lives of people living with HIV/AIDS.

Among those selling the ribbons are the ACON Safe Sex Sluts -“ teams of 10 planning to outsell each other no matter what methods are used.

It will get dirty, Lovney says. Our Sluts love a good challenge and the competition will be fierce.

The Sluts will be on the streets and selling ribbons on Thursday, Friday and Saturday 28-30 November.

Anyone who thinks they might be able to outsell the Safe Sex Sluts can form a team of their own, Lovney says.

Red Ribbons are the international symbol for HIV/AIDS awareness and each year we rely on hundreds of volunteers to help sell ribbons and pins. Funds raised go towards education efforts to help prevent transmission of HIV and towards support services for more than 8,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in NSW.

While HIV infection rates are at an all-time low and death rates have also fallen, we now have more people living with HIV/AIDS in Australia than ever before. This creates real demands on care and support services provided by ACON and other agencies. Low infection rates in NSW (358 in 2001) still mean at least one new diagnosis every day. Almost each and every day of the year someone in NSW is given the news that they are HIV-positive.

Red Ribbon volunteers are needed for those three days. To volunteer call 9206 2107 or email redribbon@acon.org.au.

On Saturday 30 November the Holy Trinity Church will host a benefit Concert by Candlelight for World AIDS Day.

Proceeds from the concert will go to HIV/AIDS support groups that do not receive significant federal or state funding.

Soprano Camille Mercep and conductor Eleftherios Kostoglou have gathered musicians and singers from around Sydney to perform works by Mozart, Handel, Bach, Mascagni, Gluck and Finzi.

Concert tickets are $20 or $15 concession and proceeds will go to World AIDS Day Charities.

Mercep told the Star a similar event last year was a great success, both in terms of fundraising and performance. The church acoustics, soft lighting and stained glass windows gave the concert a reflective and inspiring atmosphere, she said.

The Benefit Concert, sponsored by the Oliver Oram Artistic Trust, will be held at the Garrison (Holy Trinity) Church, Lower Fort and Argyle Streets, The Rocks, on Saturday 30 November at 7:30pm. Call 9876 6858 for information.

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