For 32 years those affected by HIV/AIDS are remembered with a memorial now in over 75 countries. In Boulder County, the memorial has taken place for over 10 years and is organized by the Boulder County AIDS Project and the Interfaith AIDS Coalition.
An estimated 33 million people are currently living with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). The Boulder County Aids Project (BCAP) is marking 30 years of service to the community this year. BCAP provides services to over 230 people in Boulder, Broomfield, Gilpin, and Clear Creek Counties and reaches over 10,000 Boulder County residents each year with information and education about HIV prevention.
As a response to the AIDS epidemic, The International AIDS Candlelight Memorial was begun as a program of the Global Health Council 32 years ago in 1983. The memorial is held every third Sunday in May and marked by over 1200 community organizations in over 75 countries.
The message of the memorial is to honor those lost to HIV/AIDS and to provide solidarity to other community members, to eliminate barriers of stigma and discrimination, and to maintain a level of support and preparation to the youth community and upcoming generations. Support includes advocacy and education to those who are infected with or affected by the (HIV) and to serve as an outreach and information center to prevent further transmission of HIV and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).
Services provided by BCAP include free confidential testing, counseling, community education, syringe access and overdose prevention, a youth program, and a bilingual program to name some.
The memorial begins with a gathering and reception at the BCAP house in downtown Boulder, continues with a silent walk down the Pearl Street Mall and concludes at the AIDS Memorial Garden along Boulder Creek with a final reading of the names of those lost to HIV/AIDS, a reflection and blessing. Dave Ensign, board member of BCAP gave his account and remembered when he and his friends first heard of the virus in the late 80’s. The reading of the names of those passed was provided by representatives of SHAPE, or Sexual Health AIDS Awareness Peer Education program. Father Don Rickard former pastor of Christ Community of Longmont gave reflections and a creek side blessing. The music for the event was provided by the Solidarity Singers from the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center.
This year’s memorial theme was titled “Supporting the Future” with the idea that for many people, HIV has become a chronic disease due to a lack of access to treatment and experience HIV-related stigma, discrimination and human rights violations on a daily basis according to BCAP. Holding a memorial is further intended to raise social consciousness about the continuing challenges of the disease.
The AIDS Memorial Garden reads: Dedicated with love by friends, family, and partners and was dedicated in October of 1990.