This afternoon a small group of Belizeans, many close to and familiar with the ravages of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) which causes Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS), marched down Princess Margaret Drive in the first-ever annual Solidarity Walk. They marched from the KHMH parking lot to the PASMO office on Princess Margaret Drive by way of St. Thomas St. to remember the lost lives and dreams of those killed by HIV/AIDS. Executive Director of the local HIV/AIDS support group Collaborative Network of Persons Living with HIV, Eric Castellanos, explains what activities will take place today in addition to the walk.
Eric Castellanos – Executive Director Collaborative Network of Persons Living with HIV:
It’s a Regional initiative in all Central America. It was born in El Salvador, where actually it’s a national day by legislation. It is presented in the Central American Region with the Head of States of all the countries, including Belize. All the countries are trying to adopt this thing. It is an initiative to decrease HIV related stigma and discrimination. Today, for the first time, we’re going to do a march, a short march from here, KHMH, to C-NET’s office When we reach there we will do a little ceremony which will involves, for example, the Letters To Heaven activities, in which we write small notes to our loved ones that have died and are no longer with us.
According to Mr Castellanos support has been positive and the event is intended to be a celebration of the lives lost. There are over 5,000 persons living with HIV in Belize and 33 million worldwide. The Candlelight Memorial was first established in 1983 and is now observed in 115 countries.