Wind whipped the candles' flames and the lights shimmered across the Salt Lake Valley as residents gathered to mourn and remember those who have died from AIDS.
Eighty-nine white bags containing candles were shaped to form a heart on the State Capitol steps Thursday night, symbolizing Utahns - four of them children - who have died from the incurable disease.The third annual AIDS Memorial was also to honor the families, friends and care givers of AIDS.
"We all do a lot of things to take care of people with AIDS. That's why we put the candles in the shape of a heart," said Richard Starley, a member of AIDS Project Utah, which organized the vigil in connection with the Royal Court of the Golden Spike, a gay and lesbian organization.
"Let's always remember that AIDS is about people, people living in difficult circumstances, struggling against overwhelming odds," Starley said. "It's also about families, for every person with AIDS comes from a family somewhere, both natural and chosen families.
"This is a tribute to all of these and to us who teach our communities about love, caring and compassion. We will survive AIDS and be the better for it."
About 40 people sat on the Capitol steps above the heart and held candles during the short ceremony that began just after dusk, shielding the flames from the wind.
October is AIDS Awareness Month in Utah. The Utah Department of Health statistics show 53 percent of those who have contracted the disease that destroys the body's ability to fight off infection are in the 30-39 age bracket; 64 percent are homosexual or bisexual males.