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Historic Global Vigil for AIDS Orphans Ends in New York City

New York joins 17 cities around the world speaking out for children affected by AIDS

New research study: One in three Americans admit knowing little about pandemic

NEW YORK, Nov. 30 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- AIDS activists, performers, and children and their families today concluded a 24-hour global event to honor and raise awareness about children affected by the international AIDS crisis.

"This disease is killing millions - and destroying the lives of millions more," said World Vision employee and AIDS activist Bwalya Melu, who lost three of his brothers and their wives to the virus in his native Zambia. "But each of those millions is a real life. My brothers and their wives had real children who feel the tragedy of their loss every day. We must safeguard their futures as well."

The event, launched by Christian humanitarian organization World Vision, began Thursday, November 29 at 9 a.m. in Toronto, with vigils in more than 17 cities around the globe before returning Friday morning to New York's Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church.

Friday's vigil featured performances by the Brooklyn Youth Chorus and Christian artists Shane & Shane. In addition, Melu shared his own story about the virus' impact on his own family.

Participants in the event assembled AIDS Caregiver Kits, which supply volunteer caretakers in hard-hit communities with vital, but often scarce supplies like cotton swabs, lotion and latex gloves.

During each event around the world, participants read the names of children who have lost one or both parents in communities hard-hit by AIDS. Throughout the 24-hour period, the cumulative number of names read grew until, at Friday's event, the last of 6,000 names were read, symbolizing the estimated number of children who lose a parent to AIDS each day.

"This event is like nothing we've ever done before," said World Vision President, Richard E. Stearns. "But then this crisis is like nothing we've ever addressed before. A crisis like AIDS demands a response of enormous scale, both in our programs for those affected by the virus, and in our call to affect change."

Meanwhile, in a new research study released yesterday by World Vision, one-third of people surveyed in the U.S. and six other wealthy nations admit they know little or nothing about the global HIV and AIDS epidemic. One-fourth believe the problem is "greatly exaggerated." The full study can be found at

World Vision has been combating the affects of AIDS in developing countries for more than a decade. Its first programs helped support Ugandan orphans and their foster families, provided care for Romanian infants and children with HIV, and helped young Thai women and girls escape prostitution. Today, World Vision has AIDS programs in many of the nearly 100 countries in which it works - and served nearly 2 million people with HIV-prevention education and AIDS care and assistance last year.

World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization, dedicated to helping children, their families and communities reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice worldwide. For more information, visit

SOURCE World Vision
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