A hemophiliac priest with AIDS spoke at a service in rural Kentucky and thousands marched in San Francisco as communities throughout the nation took part in a worldwide project to remember AIDS victims.
Candlelight marches, rallies and religious ceremonies were planned in 180 cities worldwide through Monday, including 97 cities in the United States.The International AIDS Candlelight Memorials involves hundreds of community-based AIDS organizations, and will be the largest "AIDS action" ever undertaken, according to Drew Siegel, a spokesman for Mobilization Against AIDS in San Francisco.
Activities surrounding the memorials vary widely across the world, including an interfaith service at St. Martin-in-the-Fields in London; a ceremony in a Buddhist temple in Bangkok; and a rally in Newark, N.J., to remember children who have died of AIDS.
In San Francisco, about 20,000 people turned out Sunday night for the AIDS Candlelight Memorial gathering. Participants held candles aloft as they walked quietly from the city's predominantly homosexual Castro District to City Hall.
"It's a way of remembering our friends," said Jim Wyatt, 38. "I've lost about 60."
In western Kentucky, a Roman Catholic priest with hemophilia infected with AIDS, told about 15 people at a candlelight service in Owensboro that they must not forget those who died of the disease.
The Rev. Danny Gough led the 45-minute nondenominational Christian service, accompanied by organ music, while the audience held lighted candles, according to Bob Johnson, an activist who attended the service.
Johnson said the service showed that tiny farming communities are no longer shutting their eyes to AIDS.
"I was very impressed. In a common, rural community like Owensboro, people have taken a long time to see that AIDS is a problem everywhere," Johnson said. "This is a community that felt, `As long as we don't talk about it, it's not happening.' My feeling was relief that as many turned out as did."
In Los Angeles, more than 2,500 people, each carrying a lighted candle, somberly marched Sunday to remember the victims of AIDS and to demonstrate for better and faster treatment of the disease.
Elsewhere, several hundred people held lighted candles aloft and formed a chain of flames around a park Sunday in a ceremony in Kansas City. In Dallas, about 200 people gathered to light candles and remember friends and loved ones who have died of AIDS.