Eurovision stars light candles to dispel discrimination
26 May 2008
The opening day of this year’s Eurovision song contest, 18 May, coincided with the 25th International AIDS Candlelight Memorial – a civil society movement for AIDS remembrance, awareness and community action.
To mark the occasion, UNAIDS brought together Eurovision participants in Belgrade to draw attention to the issue of stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV as part of its ‘Stars against AIDS’ project.
The artists chosen to represent Georgia, Bulgaria, Ukraine and Macedonia at this year’s Eurovision joined thousands of people around the world by coming together in solidarity to light candles and remember those who have been affected by AIDS.
“A few years ago I was shocked to learn how pressing the AIDS challenge was in Ukraine,” said Ukranian singer Ani Lorak. “Then I realized that there was no way that I could stay away from the issue and I decided that I had to do everything it takes to help.”
“People living with HIV are just like everyone else. By hugging them and shaking their hands I wanted to demonstrate that AIDS is not transmitted through friendship,” Ani Lorak continued.
The artists attended a press conference with the Deputy Ministry of Health of Serbia and Serbian representatives of the Network of People Living with HIV, to denounce the challenges that people living with HIV face in their everyday life.
“I am proud of this project which has brought together a group of talented singers from across Europe,” said Sergei Furgal, Director, a.i. UNAIDS Regional Support Team for Eastern Europe and Central Asia. “Through their music, songs and their strong personal commitment to improving the lives of youth—I know that they will be compelling and eloquent advocates in focusing attention on HIV and making a difference in the AIDS response.”
The Georgian singer Diana Gurtskaya – one of the main catalysts of the ‘Stars against AIDS’ initiative - spoke of her concern about discrimination against people living with HIV.
“We cannot boost the level of tolerance in society unless we change ourselves, “ said Gurtskaya, “ We should do everything it takes to make sure that people living with HIV can enjoy life just like everyone else.”
The Eurovision Song Contest was first held in 1956 and since then it has become hugely popular media event of truly international scope.