Faith-based groups plan to make an impact at 16th International AIDS Conference
08 August 2006
Dr Peter Piot, Bishop Mark Hanson, Canon Gideon Byamugisha, Rev. Rick Warren and his wife Kay, and Erik Sawyer are among speakers at ecumenical and interfaith pre-conferences taking place on the eve of the world's largest HIV/AIDS conference.
Accountability is the recurring theme as an estimated 20.000 participants - policy-makers, researchers, health care providers, activists and people living with HIV - prepare for the 16th International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2006), "Time to Deliver", 13-18 August, in Toronto, Canada.
Faith-based participants intend to examine how they will deliver on their promises - and challenge government and other players to keep their promises through ecumenical and inter-faith pre-conferences.
"Faith in Action: Keeping the Promise" is the theme of the ecumenical and interfaith pre-conferences taking place at University of Toronto's 89 Chestnut residence, 10-12 August. "Statements and promises have been made that give people hope," says Linda Hartke, coordinator of the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance. "These words must be put into action."
At the pre-conferences, over 500 faith-based participants will hear and discuss central challenges to their response to HIV and AIDS, including working with the most marginalized people living with HIV, cooperating with multi-lateral and civil society organizations and networks, and fulfilling the promises faith groups have made in response to AIDS. Skills-building workshops will help participants share best practices and strengthen responses in grassroots action and advocacy.
Key presenters in the pre-conferences include:
· Dr. Peter Piot, executive director of UNAIDS, the joint UN programme on HIV/AIDS.
· Bishop Mark Hanson, president of the Lutheran World Federation and bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
· Canon Gideon Byamugisha, founder of the African Network of Religious Leaders living with or personally affected by HIV or AIDS (ANERELA+).
· Rev. Rick Warren, pastor, author of the 25 million copies best-seller The Purpose-Driven Life, and deeply committed to fighting HIV and AIDS.
· Mrs. Kay Warren, executive director of the HIV/AIDS Initiative at Saddleback Church, a congregation of over 22,000 people in Lake Forest, California.
· Mr Erik Sawyer, one of the founders of the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP).
Probably the largest conference on a single health issue, AIDS 2006 comes on the heels of a major UN review of government responses to AIDS in New York in May and the G8 meeting in St Petersburg in July, both of which deeply disappointed many faith-based organizations and other civil society actors for the lack of follow-up on previous commitments and avoidance of setting clear targets for action.
During AIDS 2006, faith-based representatives will join over 20,000 other participants from the academic, scientific and medical communities; corporations; policy-makers from governmental and intergovernmental organizations; national and international non-governmental organizations and movements; and positive people's networks.
Participants will share the latest research, initiatives, best practices and innovative responses - as well as identify key areas for further advocacy.
Churches and church-related organizations in the Toronto area have formed a Christian Host Committee through the Canadian Council of Churches to support and facilitate the faith-based presence at AIDS 2006. The Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance provides overall coordination and support for faith-based participation through its secretariat and several international planning committees.
Media coverage and contacts
An ecumenical media team will provide daily feature articles and press releases in English, with additional coverage in Spanish, French, and German; photos; video clips; audio/radio clips; a daily conference bulletin. All material can be viewed and downloaded free of charge at:
Sign up to receive the press releases and articles daily by email:
The ecumenical media team can also assist in setting up interviews and serving as a resource for information on faith-based efforts on HIV and AIDS. Contact the team at: email@example.com +1-416-825-2256
The Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance is a broad international network of churches and Christian organizations cooperating in advocacy on global trade and HIV and AIDS. The Alliance is based in Geneva, Switzerland. For more information, see: www.e-alliance.ch