Those who died of AIDS remembered at vigil

December 02, 1992|By Liz Atwood | Liz Atwood,Staff Writer

About 50 county residents, observing World AIDS Day, staged a candlelight vigil in Annapolis last night to show that the impact of the disease is being felt in the suburbs as well as in large cities.

"Carolyn . . . Jimmy . . . Laura . . . Clarence . . . Michael . . . Gordon . . . Robert. . . ."

Members of the group called out the names of more than 30 friends and relatives who have died of AIDS. They stood in front of the State House and beside the Governor's Mansion, holding candles that flickered in the chilly, damp air.

The 60-minute vigil began at 7 p.m. at the City Dock with folk songs and hymns, then continued with a silent march up Main Street and around Church Circle before the group stopped in front of the State House. The only sound along the route was the doleful drumbeat played by a marcher at the head of the procession.

This was the second year the vigil was held in Annapolis.

"We decided we didn't need to go to Baltimore or Washington," said A. Davis Elliott, a volunteer with the HIV-AIDS Volunteer Enrichment Network (HAVEN), and a coordinator of the vigil.

"We wanted to demonstrate to Anne Arundel County that AIDS

is here, too," said Joyce Wearstler, a founder of HAVEN, a non-profit organization that helps county residents suffering with AIDS.

According to county health officials, there have been 161 cases of AIDS in the Anne Arundel since 1982, and 10 cases diagnosed this year.

But Ms. Wearstler said people with AIDS in Arundel often are afraid to reveal that they have the disease, and she said most county residents have no idea how prevalent the disease is in Arundel.

Last night's marchers included some people with acquired immune deficiency syndrome, or who are infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, and a number of people who had lost friends and relatives to the deadly disease.

"It brings awareness to everyone and it's also a healing process," Mr. Elliott said.

One woman with the human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, thanked the marchers for their show of support. "A few years ago, there was nothing," she said.

Elaine Mumford, a volunteer with HAVEN, said she came to the vigil to remember several friends who have died of AIDS.

"I think most people are not aware of how many people have AIDS," she said. The vigil, Ms. Mumford said, helps to demonstrate that "it's not just in the big cities."

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