In 2024, the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial May 19

In 2024, the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial will focus on stigma, including self-stigma, experienced by people living with HIV. The theme for this year’s event is “Let’s Spread Love and Solidarity to Build Stronger Communities.” This day is an opportunity to look within, listen, learn, and take action!

The theme “Spread love and solidarity to build stronger communities!” underscores the significant barriers faced by HIV-positive individuals due to ongoing stigma and discrimination, which induce shame, self-doubt, and isolation, and prevent them from accessing necessary treatment and support. By addressing both external and internal stigma, we can help halt persistent negative narratives surrounding HIV infection, debunk myths and misconceptions about living with HIV, and put an end to the stigma and discrimination that have long hindered effective HIV prevention and treatment.

On this day, we remind ourselves and our communities that we are valuable, that we are more than HIV, that we can love ourselves, be loved, and pursue our dreams, and that by acting in solidarity, we can create a stronger community where members care for each other.

The International AIDS Candlelight Memorial is an opportunity to honor the memory of those who perished as a result of the pandemic, and as a unified community, demonstrate our support for people living with HIV, reaffirming our commitment to continuing the work towards ending the HIV epidemic.

The world we want to live in. A world free from stigma is a world where everyone is treated with respect, where everyone is valued and esteemed, where everyone has the opportunity to thrive, where everyone believes they are loved, accepted, and included in society, and where everyone feels worthy. This is our goal for our community — for all HIV-positive individuals.

It’s time to change the narrative. We want to boldly address self-stigma and the pain it inflicts upon us, the growing need for mental health services, and the incredible power of self-respect, self-love, and solidarity that influence the accessibility of healthcare services for us and the extent to which we utilize them, as well as achieving the desired quality of life.

Invitation to the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial on May 19

On the eve of the AIDS Candlelight Memorial, traditionally observed annually on the third Sunday of May, the Estonian Network of HIV-Positive People ( reaches out to the people of Estonia, the national government, and local authorities.

These are challenging times for all of us. We invite you to pay attention to people affected by HIV and AIDS who are in need of our collective support.

41 years of fighting the HIV epidemic have taught us that a rights-based approach and community action are crucial factors in combating any epidemic. Moreover, to swiftly and effectively counter the pandemic spread of the disease, it is essential to build trust between the community of those affected by the disease, government structures, and the healthcare system.

It could be said that viruses have invaded our consciousness and our lives, but what’s important is not the virus itself, but its consequences: stigma and discrimination (the limitation and loss of rights). When we become “infected” with these consequences, questions such as a person’s skin color, gender, age, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, whether they are infected with any disease, etc., become significant. The deeper this mental virus penetrates our consciousness, the more predisposed we are to behave prejudicially, unfairly, and violently, leaving stigmatized individuals to deal with their issues alone.

A persistently high level of HIV infection, the relentless rise in new infections, the increasing total number of HIV-infected individuals, the “aging” of the infection, and the spread of the epidemic from vulnerable population groups to the population at large due to the increasing number of sexually transmitted infections are today’s realities.

Advancements in modern medicine have transformed HIV infection from a deadly disease into a chronic health condition. HIV-positive individuals who initiate treatment with antiretroviral drugs and adhere to their doctor’s prescriptions can live long and fulfilling lives. While there is no cure for AIDS, it is possible to slow down the progression of the disease. Thanks to the availability of antiretroviral drugs in Estonia, HIV/AIDS should be viewed as a manageable condition rather than a death sentence.

In our collective understanding, the goal should be to reach a situation where there are no new cases of HIV infection, no discrimination against HIV-positive individuals, and no one dying from AIDS. However, achieving this requires investment and both government officials and individuals speaking openly and honestly about this issue.

When we understand how profoundly viruses impact our lives, we do everything possible to reduce the risk of infection.

We would like to express support to all those who have lost family members, friends, and acquaintances, and together, pray for those who are no longer with us. Since the epidemic was identified in the 1980s, more than 32 million people have died from AIDS and related illnesses, leading to irreplaceable losses, millions of orphaned children, and the destruction of even more lives.

This year marks the 41st anniversary since the first AIDS Candlelight Memorial in 1983, after years of combating the then little-known virus. On this day, we want everyone to reflect on the fact that HIV infection can affect each of us, including themselves personally. We hope this idea resonates with you on the same day.

Join us on May 19 at the following locations to honor the memory of those who have died from AIDS.


In Tallinn

May 19

Lighting of candles is in Tammsaare Park at 12:00.


In Narva

May 19

Lighting of candles is on Petrovskaya Square at 12:00.


In Tartu

May 19

Lighting of candles is next to Pirogov monument at 12:00.


Also, everyone can commemorate on that day in the following ways:

Light a memorial candle on your terrace, balcony, in your garden, or any convenient place for you.

Remember and pray for relatives, friends, and acquaintances who have died from AIDS.

Share your memories and photos with us on social media and add links to our topics #ehpv or @EHPV – Estonian Network of HIV-Positive People.


Additional Information:

In Estonian: +3725557 8131

In Russian: +372 5557 8131

In English: +372 5781 6023

In Ukrainian: +372 5665 1213



In solidarity with you during this challenging time,

Estonian Network of HIV-Positive People.