From July 23 to 27 AIDS 2018 is staged in Amsterdam, the world’s largest congress on HIV. Some eighteen thousand doctors, researchers and people living with HIV will be in the Netherlands to share the latest knowledge and experiences. In that week, it will be precisely ninety years ago
that Amsterdam hosted the Olympic Games. It was at that edition that the Olympic flame was introduced: Amsterdam’s lasting contribution to the Games. This inspired Volle Maan to introduce the Positive Flame in Amsterdam. Watch the torch tour here on Wednesday July 25 from
4:30 p.m., or even better: come to one of the thirty-seven Meet&Greet locations along the route.

1928 Summer Olympics

When AIDS 2018 takes place in Amsterdam, it will be precisely ninety years ago that this city hosted the Olympic Games. It was at that edition that the Olympic flame was introduced. The flame had been part of the Games’ ritual in ancient times, but had not reappeared at the modern Olympic Games that were being held since 1896. The Olympic flame is Amsterdam’s lasting contribution to the Games.

Positive Flame

This inspired Volle Maan to introduce the
Positive Flame at AIDS 2018, in cooperation with the Dutch Association of
people living with HIV and Aidsfonds. This Positive Flame will burn in the evening of Wednesday July 25 at The Power of Love in the legendary DeLaMar Theatre, and probably also on Thursday July 26 at the congress AIDS 2018 in the RAI, in the Global Village which is accessible free of charge.

Positive Flame Tour

The Positive Flame Tour will take place on Wednesday July 25 2018 from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m.: thirty-seven torch bearers will march through Amsterdam together, from the HIV/AIDSmonument to the DeLaMar Theatre. Taking turns they will bear the Positive Torch, especially designed for the occasion. With this torch the Positive Flame will be ignited at the start of The Power of Love.

Peter Staley

The torch will be ignited by Peter Staley, one of the most prominent American AIDS activists. Peter has been standing up for people living with HIV and AIDS since the eighties, first as a leader in ACT UP, and then as a founder of TAG (Treatment Action Group). He is one of those advocates that made the world take HIV and AIDS seriously. As profiled in the Oscar-nominated documentary ‘How To Survive A Plague’, Peter fought relentlessly for the treatments that keep millions alive today.

Nobel laureate

The first torch bearer will be Nobel laureate Françoise Barré-Sinoussi, who discovered the HIV virus in the eighties: “This Positive Flame event is a very strong symbol of all the international efforts that have led to great victories during the last thirty-seven years of the
fight against HIV/AIDS. As a researcher implicated in HIV science since the early 80s, I am particularly honored and deeply moved to have been chosen as the first Positive Torch Bearer.”

35 Torch bearers, each with a different HIV-age

Françoise Barré-Sinoussi will hand over the torch to someone who was diagnosed with HIV or AIDS in 1984. This torch bearer will have jersey number 1984; that means he has been living with HIV for thirty-four years. He in turn will hand over the torch to Peter Staley (jersey number 1985). Subsequently thirty-three torch bearers will follow that live with HIV in the Netherlands. They all have a different ‘HIV-age’, for instance the well known Dutch lawyer Oscar Hammerstein (year of diagnosis 1988) and Segun (2009) who was born with HIV in Nigeria. His little brother Enitan (2011) is six years old, and the youngest torch bearer.

Timothy Brown

The torch tour will end in the evening of that Wednesday at the start of The Power of Love in the DeLaMar Theatre. The last torch bearer will be Timothy Brown, the only person in the world who has been cured from HIV. “I find it a beautiful image that the discoverer of the HIV
virus, Françoise Barré Sinoussi, is the first torch bearer, and that I, as last torch bearer, may ignite the Positive Flame on the stage of the theatre.”

Not only was Timothy Brown HIV positive, he also had leukaemia. By means of a very risky stem cell transplant has he been cured from both diseases, eleven years ago. The fact that he was cured has led hundreds of researchers around the globe to focus on curing HIV. Timothy’s choice to stand up as an ambassador of hope has been a powerful stimulus for these studies.

Fred Verdult

Torch bearer Fred Verdult (year of diagnosis 1998) presents the Positive Flame Tour together with Brenda Mugabona (1994). As they walk along, they will interview the other torch bearers, in English, as well as the ‘ambassadors’ of the organisations that organise a Meet&Greet. Fred Verdult is inventor and initiator of the Positive Flame:

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Brenda Mugabona

Torch bearer Brenda Mugabona presents the Positive Flame Tour together with Fred Verdult. Brenda was born with HIV in Rwanda in 1994. From early on she has been very open about her HIV and she appeared in numerous television programs and HIV campaigns. Her motto: “Be the change you wish to see in the world!”

Kaarsen

In the week of July 23 Positive Flame candles will be for sale at many locations in Amsterdam for €6. Aidsfonds will spend twenty-five percent of the revenues to research on HIV cure. From July 23 Positive Flame candles will be sold at:

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