World AIDS Day Marked by Protests, Vigils
LONDON (AP) _ In Copenhagen, demonstrators in Santa Claus costumes danced around a giant condom in Town Hall Square.
In Russia, doctors gave free consultations at the Moscow Satire Theater. And in Brazil, protesters called for more government funding.
World’s AIDS Day was observed Tuesday in a variety of ways, from whimsical demonstrations to solemn vigils demanding more funds to fight the deadly disease.
Hundreds of marchers in Banjul, Gambia, converged to hear speeches and pray for people with AIDS. The West African nation’s health minister, Landing Jallow Sonko, warned that AIDS may increase child mortality rates by as much as 50 percent in much of sub-Saharan Africa in the 1990s.
On the eve of World AIDS Day, Indian screen stars marched in Bombay, India’s hardest-hit city, and urged people to ″have fun, but don’t forget Nirodh,″ a popular condom.
The World Health Organization, which sponsors World AIDS Day, has said about 2 million people in Asia could die of acquired immune deficiency syndrome by the year 2000. India is particularly at risk because of widespread illiteracy, poor health care and tainted blood banks, experts have said.
In Tokyo, Japanese baseball star Sadaharu Oh joined other celebrities handing out information packets at a rally in the Ginza shopping district.
In Beijing, World Health Organization official Bernard Kean told a gathering at the Great Hall of the People that the Chinese government must do more to educate people about the disease. He said China’s incidence of AIDS is probably much higher than the 932 cases reported.
″There is a rapidly expanding portion of the population that is mobile and affluent ... who patronize prostitutes or use drugs,″ Kean said.
In Poland, a rally in the center of Warsaw drew only 60 people, more than half of them journalists.
″Such a low turnout shows the little awareness of the AIDS problem in Polish society,″ said Marek Kotanski, the rally organizer.
At a prison in the Polish city of Wroclaw, 43 inmates infected with the virus that causes AIDS began a hunger strike, demanding regular medical checkups.
Protesters gathered outside City Hall in Rio de Janeiro to demand more money for people with AIDS. A local theater held a premiere of the film ″Venus of Fire,″ which aims to eroticize condom use.
In Britain, demonstrators gathered outside the prime minister’s office to demand appointment of a minister for AIDS.
A 17-foot replica of a condom towered nearby at Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square. The display was meant to draw attention to condom use as the most effective way of stemming the AIDS epidemic in Africa and Asia, said the Marie Stopes International charity, which sponsored the demonstration.
In Israel, a condom dispenser was installed for the day at Israel’s parliament building as part of the public awareness program, and radio stations told people where to get free tests to see if they are infected.
In Russia, the Moscow Satire Theater hosted a charity event that included a free performance and free consultations and literature about the disease.