MUT staff and students light candles to remember those affected by HIV/Aids

MUT staff and students lighting candles to remember those affected by HIV/Aids

On 21 May 2024, MUT joined the multitudes around the world that commemorated the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial, in remembrance of people living with HIV and Aids.  The International AIDS Candlelight Memorial Day was started in 1983 by people living with HIV, and is commemorated on the third Sunday of May every year. Sister Bongiwe Sithole said that was a time to remember many lives that were lost to AIDS. “It is also an opportunity to honour those who dedicated their lives to helping people living with, and affected by HIV,” said Sister Sithole.

The theme for the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial 2024 was “Together we Remember, Together we Heal, Through Love and Solidarity”. The event started with a prayer at 17h00 and ended at 19h00. Most participants were students. Other participants were Campus Health Clinic and Housing department staff. Sister Sithole said that during the event, each participant held a lit candle in memory of a loved one, family, friend, colleague, or a pioneer in the fight against HIV and AIDS who passed away from this disease “hence the sub-theme “Gone but not Forgotten”.

“The best memorial we can give to those who died from this disease is to remember the good times they had instead of remembering the emotional impact of suffering and dying whenever we think of them. We need to stand together to break down the barriers of stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV,” said Sister Sithole. Sister Sithole said they were encouraging HIV-infected people to adhere to anti-retroviral medication to keep the infection under control.  “Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is highly effective for prevention of HIV transmission. Campus Health Services has collaborated with TBHIVCARE, a registered non-profit organisation to provide PrEP on campus every Wednesday,” said Sister Sithole. She said the effort would help reduce the chances of HIV transmission among the MUT community. “Make use of this service. Let us protect ourselves, our loved ones, and those we interact with,” Sister Sithole said.