Every year on 22 May, countries in Latin America hold a vigil to remember the loved ones they have lost to HIV-related illnesses. In Bolivia, our partner IDH (Human Development Institute) will lead the country's response.
IDH are holding a public vigil of remembrance - lighting candles, singing songs and saying prayers, which will involve local churches, people living with HIV and the families, friends and colleagues of those who they have lost.
'Always in our thoughts'
Daniel Ruiz works for IDH and has been helping to organise the vigil. He was been living with HIV for over 20 years.
Daniel Ruiz from Christian Aid partner IDH
Usually, Daniel can be found out campaigning and supporting others, but on 22 May he will be calling to mind and remembering those who are no longer with us.
'Although it may be years, our friends, partners or family members who died of HIV-related diseases will always be in our thoughts and hearts,' he says.
Daniel will especially be remembering a close friend of his who recently died from an HIV-related disease. For Daniel, who is used to supporting and encouraging people to live with HIV, this was very hard.
'I realised he was saying goodbye so I stopped trying to encourage him to put all his strength into staying alive, but started helping him to say goodbye instead. It's very hard to do that, to let someone go, but I prayed and began to accept his feelings.'
HIV in Bolivia
Bolivians living with HIV face discrimination from many people, including some health professionals. This is why IDH are tirelessly campaigning to ensure access to comprehensive and high-quality health services and medicines for those who need it in Bolivia.
IDH work in areas where infection rates are high. As well as lobbying for better rights, they promote HIV awareness and prevention, run support groups for people living with HIV and challenge the stigma associated with the virus.
A man grateful for life
As someone who is living with HIV, Daniel describes himself as 'a man grateful for life'. Through his work with IDH, he has helped many people living with HIV to follow his example – to see that life can go on and that life is good.
Although 22 May is a day to remember those we have lost, it is also an opportunity to celebrate the work of organisations like IDH, and of people like Daniel who continue to help others living with HIV to gain the medicines, support and confidence they need to lead a normal life.
• Christian Aid and HIV in Bolivia
• Stigma Under the Lens audio-slideshows
• Our work on health