Some demonstrations are riotous, loud and violent. Some are simple, quieter displays of civil disobedience. Others, like the World AIDS Day candlelight vigil held outside Boise City Hall Thursday night, are practically silent.
Eighty-plus students, teachers, activists, mothers, sons and lovers gathered to remember those throughout the world infected with HIV and afflicted with AIDS. A large circle of white candles illuminated their breath in the frigid cold.
The event, sponsored by Boise-based Allies Linked for the Prevention of HIV and AIDS, was held simultaneously with other vigils in Nampa, Pocatello, Moscow and other Idaho cities. Attendees shared stories of lost loved ones and their own battles with HIV/AIDS.
Caroline Mulder weeped openly as she spoke of her brother Paul who passed away from AIDS three years ago.
“The stigma is great,” said Mulder a volunteer with ALPHA. She said her engagement with ALPHA helped her heal the bereavement of her late brother, calling the non-profit “wonderful therapy.”
Boise nurse Judy Cross spoke of the years during the burgeoning AIDS epidemic when doctors didn’t know how to handle those infected. It was not uncommon, she said, for AIDS patients to be quarantined from other patients for fear that the disease was more communicable than it really was. Cross said that she still witnessed HIV discrimination even after all that the medical community knew about the virus. She spoke of a pregnant Hispanic woman who had been refused care by several hospitals in the Treasure Valley—just one story, she said, of many where patients with HIV are marginalized.
“A lot of such discrimination comes from fear,” said Cross.