National Theme: Ending AIDS; Faith Communities In Action

Candlelight Day Memorial is an internationally recognized event that started in 1983 and it takes place every third Sunday in May. It is one of the oldest and largest grassroot mobilization campaigns for HIV awareness in the world. It is a day when communities stand in solidarity with those who lost their dear ones to AIDS; provide a platform for advocacy and stimulate increased individual resolve and actions to fight the epidemic. This is the day when everyone is called upon to rise up to face the challenges encountered in the fight against HIV and AIDS. Currently, Uganda like other countries is battling the COVID-19 pandemic, and the country is under lockdown, which affects the modality of commemorating the Candle Light Memorial Day for 2020. However, the long experience of commemorating Candlelight Memorial day provides an opportunity to reach out to the community with HIV and AIDS as well as COVID-19 messages.

This year, UAC will coordinate the Candlelight Memorial Day with the lead of the Faith Based Organizations, Self Coordinating Entity (FBOs SCE). FBOs will be coordinated through their Secretariat the Inter Religious Council of Uganda (IRCU).  In Uganda, faith is a very powerful platform for community mobilization and effective promotion of programmes. According to the IRCU FBO inventory over 97% of Ugandans belong / subcribe to an organized religious denomination. The IRCU estimates that over 18million people attend and/ or participate in a religious activity every week starting from Friday to Sunday. In all communities countrywide, Religious leaders command a lot of respect from those they lead and their message is often taken as the ‘gospel truth.’ The IRCU platform has a lot of potential for bringing together all major Religious denominations for enhanced advocacy and action for HIV/AIDS. The FBOs have well established leadership structures, infrastructure, institutions, radios and TVs, personnel and the faithful. All this provides a huge opportunity to effectively pass over key messages on HIV/AIDS, accurately and consistently. UAC has in the past collaborated with IRCU and developed a Pastoral letter on HIV and AIDS that has been disseminated through various places of worship largely for behavior change communication.

Throughout the Candle Light commemoration this year, Stakeholders will be mobilized towards reflecting on their actions and accounting for their contribution towards the goal of the PFTI.

Theme of Candle Light Memorial 2020

The International theme for Candle Light Memorial 2020 is ‘We remember- We take action- We live beyond HIV’.  Uganda will customize this to the National theme: ‘Ending AIDS: Faith Communities in Action’.  Candlelight memorial is therefore an opportunity to reinvigorate inter- Religious action and collaboration by all communities towards accelerated HIV and AIDS response.

Objectives of the Candle-Light 2020

  1. To mobilize religious leaders country wide to spearhead the fight against stigma and discrimination of people living with HIV
  2. To promote the rights of people living with HIV during public health emergencies
  3. To stimulate leadership and all actors to take individual and collective responsibility to end new HIV infections.

Activities for Commemoration of the Candlelight memorial Event

The national commemoration of the 2020 Candlelight memorial day in Uganda will be marked over a long series of activities including Intensive Mass media campaign, Press briefing, Dedicated Virtual Prayers by all Religions, Intensified message dissemination through the Private Not for Profit Health (PNFP) facilities, Stakeholders engagement and the Candlelight Event. The focus of the commemoration will be intensified publicity of HIV/AIDS and COVID-19 prevention messages across the entire country.  UAC and IRCU will work closely with the Ministry of ICT and National Guidance (ICT& NG), the Media Self Coordinating Entity and Ministry of Health to ensure intensified communication and a lot of media hype through all forms; social media, print and electronic. 


Press Briefing

On 6th May 2020 the Uganda Media Centre  hosted a press briefing to inform the public about commemoration of the Candle light Memorial event. This was addressed by the Hon. Minister in-charge of the Presidency; the ArchBishop of the Church of Uganda,  and  the Chairperson of the National Forum of People Living with HIV Networks in Uganda (NAFOPHANU) and DG UAC. Also present was UNAIDS Country Director and the Chairperson HIV Committee of Parliament. In her speech the Hon. Minister for Presidency Esther Mbayo reminded Ugandans that much as a lot of the nationals’ efforts are geared towards the management and prevention of COVID-19, the country should not relax its efforts and commitment towards preventing and ending HIV and AIDS. She noted that prior to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Uganda had already achieved the global UNAIDS 90-90-90 targets and despite the disruptions presented by COVID-19,  there is need to guard against reversal of these gains and ensure that  the country is on course to end AIDS as a public health threat in Uganda  by 2030. She further noted that the annual HIV commemorative activities usually held in the month of May will climax on May 17th 2020. Due to Covid-19, the activities will be carried out in a scientific way that takes into consideration the existing Presidential guidelines on social distancing. She called upon members of the public to participate in this year’s memorial virtually by sharing actions on various media platforms including social media, radio, newspaper and TVs. (Down Load Full Statement of the Minister below).

Candle Lighting Event (17th May 2020)

Observing social distance, a candlelight panel will be held on 17th May 2020 at  a venue to be communicated. The event  will be presided over by the Minister in-charge Office of the President and the  representative of  the Inter Religious Council of Uganda. A symbolic candle will be lit as a sign of solidarity with those who lost their dear ones to AIDS and as a call for renewed commitment to end the HIV and COVID-19 pandemics. The candle lighting will be followed by a panel discussion tackling key issues that pertain to prevention of the HIV and COVID 19 pandemics.  The panel will have one official from each of the following entities: Uganda AIDS Commission, IRCU, the Network of People living with HIV, Ministry of Health and UNAIDS. The Ministry of ICT & NG  will collaborate with the media Self Coordinating entity  for live streaming of the event inorder to reach  a wider community.



Thursday, May 7, 2020 - 17:00