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Candlelight Display At Golden Gate Park Honors Millions Of Lives Lost To AIDS

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) - After millions of HIV-related deaths, Wednesday marks World AIDS Day commemorating the lives lost and the ongoing fight to find a cure. Now

National Aids Memorial organizers want a new light display at the Memorial Grove at Golden Gate Park, to honor people still living with HIV and the hundreds of thousands of lives lost in this country to AIDS.

"It's important to remember a memorial is so much more than names engraved in stone or panels lovingly stitched together to create the quilt," said National AIDS Memorial CEO John Cunningham.

One of those young lives lost was Jason Neal Fulton, who grew up with severe Hemophilia A, and contracted HIV because of contaminated blood.

"He's more alive here than at any other grave site and it gives us a chance to remember the lives lost and to recommit ourselves to the mission to never let it happen again," said Jason's younger sister Ursula Dunivant.

It's been 40 years since the first reported cases of AIDS in the United States, with more than 700,000 lives lost since then.

"They didn't care that gay people were dying, they didn't care, drug users were dying, immigrants were dying, they didn't care hemophiliacs were dying, they didn't care because they didn't look like mainstream America," said Eric Ciasullo of San Francisco.

Doctors told Jason at the age of 17 he was HIV positive. He died at the age of 24.

"If we don't keep talking about it and educating and re-educating our younger populations it will never go away," said Dunivant.

For Jason's family, the sea of twinkling lights, candles, and vibrant colors, are reminders that hope burns bright, even in times of darkness.

"Being together with a community sharing hope and stories galvanizes our commitment to continue the fight to have a day without HIV and AIDS," said Cunningham.

The display will open to the general public Wednesday for only one night.

According to the National Aids Memorial organization, 1.2 million people live with HIV today.

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