About Candlelight Memorial

The International AIDS Candlelight Memorial, coordinated by the Global Network of People living with HIV is one of the world’s oldest and largest grassroots mobilization campaigns for HIV awareness in the world. 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 International AIDS Candlelight Memorial is much more than just a memorial. The International AIDS Candlelight Memorial serves as a community mobilization campaign to raise social consciousness about HIV and AIDS. With 33 million people living with HIV today, the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial serves as an important intervention for global solidarity, breaking down barriers of stigma and discrimination, and giving hope to new generations.

Mobilization & Advocacy Campaign

For many organizers community mobilization for the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial begins on World AIDS Day, 1 December, and ends with the international memorial in May. Organizations register online on the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial website to become official "coordinating organizations."

Once registered, the Global Network of People living with HIV informs and guides coordinating organizations in the planning of their memorial activities. The Global Network of People living with HIV provides posters, a theme and some directions in the kind of policy change that is called for through the theme. These demands for policy and social change are based on the Candlelight Advocacy Platform.

Coordinating Organizations

Coordinating Organizations are the community-based groups and networks organizing the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial around the world. Coordinating organizations are diverse and include networks and organisations of people living with HIV and other key populations, affected families and communities, as well as women organizations, service organizations, academic institutions, health-care facilities, faith-based groups, businesses, media, and more.

The Global Network of People living with HIV provides global coordination and makes a available an online coordinator package including a manual and specially designed posters, web space to post event details, and membership of the campaign's global coalition. After the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial event in May, coordinating organizations submit a brief final report online detailing what happened at their activities and the impact of the events on their communities.

The Memorials

Memorials range from small community vigils to multi-day national commemorations. In addition to remembrance, many coordinating organizations use the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial as an opportunity to promote local HIV services, encourage education and community dialogue, and advocate for the advancement of public policy. Memorials often include lighting of candles, marches, speeches, dramatic performances, spiritual and cultural rituals, and a safe space for interaction and community engagement.

As a global coordinating organization, the Global Network of People living with HIV supports the memorials with a website, press release templates, fact sheets, digital posters, web banners and other promotional materials.

Regional and National Leadership

Leadership by people living with HIV and those affected by HIV is an important part of the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial. Historically the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial was started by people living with HIV “to give a face to the epidemic”.

Today, coordinating organizations are diverse and include networks and organisations of people living with HIV and other key populations, affected families and communities, as well as women organizations, service organizations, academic institutions, health-care facilities, faith-based groups, businesses, media, and more.

In the support structure of the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial, national coordinators lead the Candlelight in their countries, working with community coordinating organizations to develop their community events. A number of national coordinators also function as regional coordinators and are members of the International Advisory Board representing each world region where the program takes place. Throughout the year, the Global Network of People Living with HIV supports exchange between regional and national coordinators.