More than 200 people met at the state Capitol at sunset Friday for a candlelight vigil honoring World AIDS Day and remembering loved ones who died from the disease.

"Because of AIDS, my children no longer have a father, and I no longer have a husband,"said keynote speaker Michelle Brown. "Because of AIDS, my husband will never see his son graduate or be able to walk his daughter down the aisle at her wedding."When Brown's husband was diagnosed with AIDS in 1990, neighbors not only discriminated against him but to his two children. "My children know what it's like to have friends forbidden to play with them because their daddy has a disease and is dying," Brown said tearfully. Her husband died three years ago.

So far 694 Utahns have died of AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) and an estimated 6,000 more have the disease. These statistics include fathers, mothers, brothers, friends and children.

Tyler Spriggs was one of those children. Tyler, who traveled around the state with his mother educating schoolchildren about AIDS, died last November, one week before his ninth birthday.

"He would say, `My name is Tyler. I have AIDS, but I can't hurt you,' " said Tyler's mother, Carolyn. "Now if a 3-year-old child can understand his own disease and his own mortality, why can't we educate adults?"

Kristy Christensen, a 17-year-old who passed out candles for the event, helps educate her peers about AIDS. She said there's a lot of misinformation about the disease. "Kids know how it is transmitted, how it has something to do with sex," she said. "They don't know ways it can't be passed, like on toilet seats or utensils."

Carrie Roberts, 25, learned a lot about AIDS this fall in a class she's taking at the University of Utah. The class, AIDS Issues, has about 40 students from a variety of fields. The class interested Roberts because she recently was accepted into the U.'s nursing program. She said one of the most important things she's learned this quarter is how much discrimination people with AIDS suffer.

David Javens, 32, who was diagnosed with the disease eight years ago, has experienced this prejudice firsthand. "I think there's been enough hatred surrounding AIDS, that there needs to be more love," he said.

Javens has seen Utahns' support for World AIDS day grow over the past eight years. At the first candlelight vigil he attended there were, at most, 20 people, he said. In some ways, the growing support sickens him because the growing crowd represents the growing number of people affected by the disease. "I'm glad there are so many people here. I just wish it didn't have to happen," said Javens, who lost a good friend to AIDS in November.

Jared Brown, 22, who works with the AIDS Foundation, said the event was a chance to mourn. "For me tonight is sort of a cathartic experience bringing many people together who have felt the same pain and loss."

The candlelight vigil was one of several events held in Utah Friday to commemorate World Aids Day. Salt Lake museums shrouded important works of art to honor the many artists who have died of AIDS. Free HIV testing was provided by the Salt Lake County Health Department and an ecumenical service was held Friday night at the First Baptist Church.